Alberta surpasses Ontario with most confirmed, active COVID-19 cases in Canada

The latest:

Alberta has reached a “precarious point” in the coronavirus pandemic, the province’s top doctor said Monday upon reporting 1,549 new cases and five more deaths. Dr. Deena Hinshaw also said there were 13,166 active cases in Alberta — surpassing Ontario’s 13,004 for the most in the country.

Hinshaw said she would meet Monday with a cabinet committee “to discuss a series of new measures to reduce the rising spread of COVID-19.”

“Based on their decisions, we will provide a detailed update to Albertans tomorrow,” Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, told a news conference.

“We must take action. Waiting any longer will impact our ability to care for Albertans in the weeks and months ahead. As chief medical officer of health, my role is to provide advice to government on how to protect the health of Albertans.”

WATCH | Pressure mounts on Alberta to tighten restrictions as cases rise:

Alberta’s daily reported COVID-19 cases now rival Ontario’s for the highest in the country, even though it has a third of the population. The province’s resistance to restrictions may be crumbling, but Alberta’s top doctor says a surge in hospitalizations is inevitable as cases ‘snowball.’ 2:02

Earlier, Ontario reported a record high daily COVID-19 case number on Monday with 1,589 new cases and 19 additional deaths, bringing the death toll in the province to 3,505.

The update on Monday came after people in Toronto and Peel Region woke up to new rules after the province announced a lockdown period for those regions set to last at least 28 days. Non-essential stores in those regions will be closed to shoppers, and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery.

Premier Doug Ford also announced that the province has appointed retired Gen. Rick Hillier to lead Ontario’s vaccine rollout. Hillier previously served as the chief of defence staff of the Canadian Forces for three years.

Ford said planning is already underway with vaccine manufacturers for the rollout expected in early 2021. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province will receive 1.6 million doses of Pfizer’s new vaccine and 800,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

WATCH | Ford discusses decision to close small business in locked-down regions:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford admitted it’s ‘not fair’ to small business that big box stores can stay open when small stores without ‘essential’ items are forced to close because of enhanced pandemic restrictions.   1:05

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is self-isolating after he was potentially exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Jim Billington, the executive director of communications for Moe’s office, said in an email that the premier isn’t experiencing any symptoms but was tested for the virus.

Saskatchewan reported 235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with four new deaths.

It all added up to Canada’s single highest number of cases reported for one day, with 5,713. 


What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:10 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 337,555, with 56,832 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,521.

Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords applying for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

In British Columbia, health officials reported 1,933 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days as well as 17 deaths. B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday’s briefing as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living.

She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public have the tools and the knowledge to do that.

“I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province,” Henry said.

Manitoba reported 543 COVID-19 cases —  a new daily record — as well as seven more deaths, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced. The province where health officials recently imposed strict measures to try to get a handle on rising case numbers.

“It might be easier to just think of these as numbers, but these are Manitobans,” Roussin said. “The list continues to grow and it’s very challenging to be reading every day.”

WATCH | Premier takes questions over Manitoba’s handling of COVID-19:

As G20 leaders, including Canada, vow to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, there are greater calls for a national vaccine rollout strategy in Canada. 3:31

In Atlantic Canada, which has so far been spared the worst of the global pandemic, two premiers told residents of their provinces that travel guidelines are changing.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s premier said that a decision to temporarily pull out of the Atlantic bubble is meant to stave off a second wave and try to protect the upcoming holiday season.

As of Wednesday, people arriving in the province from other “bubble” provinces will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

WATCH | P.E.I. pulls out of Atlantic bubble over COVID-19 worries:

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said the province is temporarily suspending its participation in the Atlantic bubble after coronavirus cases began rising within the region.  1:18

Prince Edward Island also moved on Monday to suspend non-essential travel to and from the island for a two-week period. Premier Dennis King described the move as “an extra layer of caution.”

The provinces joined the Atlantic bubble in July, which allowed residents of the four Atlantic provinces to travel freely between the provinces without self-isolating.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases on Monday for a total caseload of 321. P.E.I. added one new case, bringing the total number of cases reported in the island province to 69.

Quebec on Monday reported 1,164 cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths, including three reported to have occurred in the last 24 hours. Hospitalizations stood at 634, with 98 in intensive care, according to the province.

New Brunswick reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death. Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, urged residents to “please, wear a mask” and keep their close contacts low. “We must all remain vigilant. There has never been a time when the risk was zero,” she said.

Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, equalling Sunday’s total. There are currently 51 active cases in the province and 1,143 tests were completed in the province on Sunday.

WATCH | Prioritizing access to COVID-19 vaccines in Canada:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister insists his province’s restrictions are the most stringent in the country. 8:00

Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after adding dozens of new cases over the weekend. The territory, which is in the midst of a so-called circuit-breaker lockdown, has now seen a total of 134 cases.

In Yukon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the territory on Monday.

The Northwest Territories, meanwhile, had no new cases over the weekend.


What’s happening around the world

As of early Monday evening, there were more than 59 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 37.6 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

AstraZeneca says that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

The results reported Monday are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as public health officials around the world anxiously wait for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

In the Americas, the U.S. government on Tuesday will start distributing 30,000 doses of an experimental antibody drug to fight COVID-19, the same one President Donald Trump received last month.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to allow emergency use of the drug, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, for people with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high risk of developing serious illness because of their age or other medical conditions. It’s not authorized for use in sicker, hospitalized patients or those who need extra oxygen.

Meanwhile, public health officials in the U.S. are sounding alarms and urging people not to travel and limit gatherings this holiday season amid a new surge in coronavirus cases.

But that isn’t stopping the White House from planning a host of festivities, including holiday parties, which kicked off Monday with the arrival of the White House Christmas tree.

“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” said Stephanie Grisham, first lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson and chief of staff. “It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

The White House has already been the site of several suspected “super-spreader” events and dozens of staff — along with the president, the first lady and their son — have been infected, along with a long list of campaign aides and other advisers.  

Melania Trump is seen with the official 2020 White House Christmas tree as it arrived Monday. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

In Europe, haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday.

Johnson confirmed to lawmakers that on Dec. 2 the government will lift the stay-at-home instruction introduced early this month to curb a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Shops, gyms, personal care businesses and leisure facilities will be allowed to reopen, and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume. Fans will also be allowed back into sports stadiums for the first time since March.

Johnson said “the scientific cavalry is now in sight,” and breakthroughs in mass testing and vaccines should eliminate the need for lockdowns by spring. But first, he said, “we must get through winter without the virus spreading out of control and squandering our hard-won gains.” 

He said England’s lockdown will be replaced with regional measures involving three tiers of restrictions based on the scale of the outbreak in different areas. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a national COVID-19 vaccination plan will be launched in January.

Sanchez said the vaccine will be administered at 13,000 locations across Spain and “a very substantial part of the population” can be vaccinated in the first half of next year. Further details are expected on Tuesday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said it’s “extremely important” for its international team to visit China to look into the origins of the coronavirus, saying the United Nations health agency has been reassured such a trip will happen “as soon as possible.”

Dr. Michael Ryan said such a visit is needed so that “the international community can be reassured of the quality of the science” that he lamented has been increasingly questioned for political ends — including pressure and threatening emails against scientists.

A waiter stands at the entrance of a bar in Barcelona on Monday after Spain’s Catalonia region allowed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas to reopen. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)

“Clearly, we all need to understand the origin of the virus. We all need to understand where it has come from, not least to understand where it may re-emerge in the future,” Ryan told a news conference from Geneva. “I believe our Chinese colleagues are just as anxious to find those answers as we are.”

Ten months after its declaration that COVID-19 represented an international public health emergency, WHO is still working to deploy an international team of experts to China to visit the suspected epicentre in the city of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

In the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has announced a partial two-week lockdown to clamp down on the coronavirus’s spread as new cases have rapidly increased.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that the West Bank will be under a full lockdown on the weekends, and a curfew will be imposed from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. on weekdays. All non-essential businesses will be closed during the lockdown periods.

South Africa remains the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 767,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 21,000 deaths.

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