Quebec expands COVID-19 lockdown, and worry in Ontario over hospitals

The latest:

Health officials in Quebec are moving five more municipalities into lockdown on Monday in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial government said the curfew will move from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday evening in the regional municipalities of Beauce-Sartigan, Bellechasse, Les Etchemins, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche.

Non-essential businesses will have to close starting Monday evening, as will restaurant dining rooms. Schools will also have to close for in-person learning. The measures will be in place until at least April 12, the province said.

The Quebec government imposed the same restrictions on three other cities last week, including Quebec City and Gatineau.

The announcement of the additional restrictions in Quebec came Sunday, as the province reported 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 502, the province said, with 128 COVID-19 patients reported to be in intensive care units.

The restrictions come as many provinces face mounting COVID-19 case numbers and increasing hospitalizations, prompting concern about strain on health-care systems.

Ontario is expected to provide two days’ worth of COVID-19 numbers later Monday. On Saturday, the last day health officials in Ontario posted updated COVID-19 statistics, the province reported more than 3,000 new cases and 16 additional deaths. As of Saturday, a provincial dashboard put the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at 796, with 496 in ICU “due to COVID-related illness.”

(CBC)

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


What’s happening across Canada

Quebec reported 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and nine additional deaths. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

As of early Monday morning, Canada had reported 1,003,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 58,402 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,062.

In Atlantic Canada, a hospital in northwestern New Brunswick is nearing its capacity for acute care patients, according to a statement released by the Vitalité Health Network over the weekend. 

“The evolution of the variant and its atypical behaviours are creating problems that exceed the pessimistic projections that had been made for that region,” the statement from the organization’s president and CEO Dr. France Desrosiers said. “The Edmundston Regional Hospital will soon reach its maximum capacity in terms of patients requiring acute care.”

Desrosiers, who praised the efforts of front-line workers and health-care staff, noted that the transfer of patients to other facilities “is imminent.”

New Brunswick reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with nine of the cases coming from the Edmundston region. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 15, health officials reported, with seven people in intensive care.

Nova Scotia reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and there were no cases reported in either Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or Yukon on Sunday.

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In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba did not provide an update on COVID-19 on Sunday.

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 221 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 194, with 44 people in intensive care due to COVID-19, the highest figure recorded in the province.

In Alberta, a preliminary estimate of new case numbers reported Sunday stood at 950, the province’s top doctor said in a tweet. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said hospitalizations remained stable, noting that health officials would provide an update on Monday.

British Columbia will provide updated case numbers later Monday. Businesses putting staff and patrons at risk by remaining open in defiance of COVID-19 rules will face consequences, the province’s public safety minister said Sunday as the province works to bring surging infections under control.

The warning from Mike Farnworth comes after a Vancouver restaurant that flouted restrictions by serving patrons indoors was slapped with a closure notice on Saturday, which its owner has indicated she intends to ignore.

“Harassment of enforcement officials will not be tolerated, and closure orders by Vancouver Coastal Health or any other health authority must be respected,” Farnworth said in a statement.

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


What’s happening around the world

Medical workers fill a box with Colomba traditional Easter cakes as they prepare to tour the COVID-19 ward of the GVM Maria Pia Hospital in Turin on Sunday. (Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 131.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.

In the Americas, Johnson & Johnson is taking over “full responsibility” for a subcontractor’s Baltimore facility that produces the drug substance for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after an embarrassing mix-up. The company said it’s adding leaders in operations and quality control to the Emergent BioSolutions plant to supervise the work of its vaccine line.

It comes after enough drug substance for about 15 million doses was contaminated by human error at the plant. The issue was flagged to federal regulators, who have yet to approve any doses from the Baltimore plant, last week.

J&J has delivered about 20 million doses from another plant to the federal government already and says it expects to deliver about 80 million more by the end of May.

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In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippine government extended a lockdown by another week Monday after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, under lockdown last week as daily infections breached 10,000. Roman Catholic leaders shifted Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned.

Bangladesh began enforcing a weeklong nationwide lockdown Monday, shutting shopping malls and transportation as authorities try to stop a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.

The decision came after health authorities said that they were facing overwhelming pressure in intensive care units in recent weeks because of severe infections. This is the second time the South Asian nation has enforced a virus lockdown after the first last March.

India has reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are returning to the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread.

A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 at a residential area in Ahmedabad, India on Sunday. (Ajit Solanki/The Associated Press)

The Health Ministry on Monday reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country’s death toll to 165,101.

India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.

In the Middle East, Iran’s capital is once again facing the highest level of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus as the country struggles with a new surge in daily deaths. State media said the measure on Monday is the third time Tehran has faced a so-called code red since the pandemic began. A code red involves a ban on any travel by personal cars to and from cities, and limits working hours of many businesses and offices to prevent the spread of the virus.

About 50 cities and towns are in code red, with only 23 in code blue, or “safe” status, out of the country’s total of more than 800 cities and towns. The rest are in orange and yellow status, which involve less restrictions.

The report comes as Iran’s daily death toll again reached three digits, after months of being under 100. On Sunday, 161 deaths were reported, bringing the registered death toll in Iran to more than 63,000, the highest in the Middle East. Iran has reported some 1.9 million confirmed cases of the virus

Also on Monday, Iran said it received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands through the global COVAX initiative. 

In Africa, South Africa’s health minister said Sunday that the number of confirmed cases in the country — the hardest-hit on the continent — stood at more than 1.5 million, with nearly 53,000 recorded deaths.

In Europe, Portugal on Sunday extended restrictions on travel via land and sea to Spain that had been due to end this weekend until April 15.

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco told the Financial Times newspaper that the biggest threat to a global economic recovery is the irregular pace at which countries are vaccinating their populations against COVID-19.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET

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