Coronavirus: What’s Happening in Canada and Around the World on Friday

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In the West Bank, the city of Bethlehem faces its second pandemic-stricken Christmas Eve, with small crowds and celebrations on a gray and dreary Friday at Jesus’ traditional birthplace.

A ban on nearly all air traffic entering through Israel – the main entry point for foreign visitors heading to the occupied West Bank – is still keeping many international travelers away this year. The ban is intended to help control the spread of the highly contagious variant of the Omicron coronavirus.

Before the pandemic, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world visited the city on Christmas, providing a holiday spirit and an economic boost to the city.

The lack of foreign visitors makes Bethlehem count on the small Christian community in the Holy Land to boost morale.

Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman said the city was optimistic Christmas would be better than last year, when local residents stayed at home due to lockdown restrictions.

“Last year our festival was virtual, but this year it will be face to face with popular participation,” said Salman.

Christian pilgrims visit the Church of the Nativity, revered as the site of the birth of Jesus Christ, with security forces on guard during Christmas celebrations in the biblical city of Bethlehem on Friday. (Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)

In Bethlehem’s Manger Square, groups of Boy Scouts marched, beating drums and waving flags before the arrival from Jerusalem of Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the highest Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land. Pizzaballa was to celebrate midnight mass at the nearby Church of the Nativity, which houses the cave where Christians believe Jesus was born.

– From The Associated Press, latest update 5:55 a.m. ET

What is happening in Canada

For more details on the impact of COVID-19 on your community – including hospital data and the latest restrictions – check out coverage from CBC newsrooms across the country.

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Canada reported more than 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time on Thursday, the culmination of a record-breaking day that saw several provinces confirm new highs of infections.

According to CBC News Coronavirus Tracker, the country recorded 20,699 infections, eclipsing the previous record of 14,465 set the day before.

New single-day highs were seen in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on Thursday.

This graph shows the latest increase in COVID-19 cases in Canada, along with hospitalizations, which may not increase for weeks after the onset of cases. (Adam Ciolfi and Wendy Martinez / CBC News)

Quebec, Who recorded 9,397 new cases on Thursday, reportedly decided to order millions of additional rapid tests on its own rather than wait for federal government deliveries.

Sources told Radio-Canada that the province had agreed to spend $ 86 million on the order, which could guarantee at least 12 million rapid tests. We do not know when Quebec will receive this order.

Ontario registered 5,790 new cases on Thursday. The province’s io case count eclipsed the previous high of 4,812, which fell to mid-April, while Quebec’s previous high of 6,361 was Wednesday.

Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said this week that a record number of daily cases is expected and will likely continue for several weeks.

In the western provinces, BC reported 2,046 new cases on Thursday, a new record, after the province closed bars, nightclubs and gyms on Wednesday and banned gatherings such as weddings. This is the third day in a row that the number of COVID-19 cases in the province has reached new highs. On Wednesday, a report from an independent COVID-19 modeling group said hospitalizations from Omicron-powered fifth wave in British Columbia will reach unprecedented levels around mid-January.

Alberta reported 1,625 new cases on Thursday. The province’s chief medical officer of health said Albertans should use rapid tests to confirm whether they have COVID-19 if they are showing symptoms, rather than booking PCR tests. She noted that laboratory capacity has been strained in Quebec and Ontario, where Omicron is pushing up the number of cases.

Saskatchewan reported 194 new cases and one additional death on Thursday.

One new death and 556 new cases were reported Thursday in Manitoba. The province has warned it has reached its test processing capacity and there is now a four-day wait for results. The current number of cases is underestimated due to the delay, the government said.

In New Brunswick, Authorities on Thursday announced 257 new cases and two more deaths. The province’s chief medical officer of health is urging people to limit their gatherings.

New Scotland also reported a new record on Thursday, with 689 new cases.

of Prince Edward Island new pandemic restrictions took effect on Friday morning. Wedding and funeral receptions as well as vigils and visits will no longer be authorized. Organized gatherings such as church services, wedding and funeral ceremonies, concerts and performances will be limited to 50 people, and schools will not return to in-person learning until at least January 10. The move comes after the province reported a record 35 new cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador has returned to COVID-19 alert level 3 since Thursday morning, the change brought about by a rapid increase in cases, the emergence of the Omicron variant and outbreaks detected in three of the regional health authorities in the province. At level 3, people are asked to stay at home as much as possible and maintain a household bubble of up to 20 people. The province reported 100 new cases on Thursday, the highest number since February.

yukonese reported nine new cases on Thursday.

Nunavut Tightens COVID-19-related public health restrictions in Iqaluit, including restricting travel to and from the capital for essential purposes only.

The territory says that as of noon today, the city’s swimming pool, theater, and hair and nail salons are to close. Restaurants are limited to take out only. Indoor gatherings in homes are limited to five people plus household members.

the Northwest Territories canceled its travel bubble with Nunavut, citing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 community in neighboring territory. The cancellation took effect Thursday at 5 p.m.

“The update [public health order] will now treat all residents traveling to or through Nunavut as if they were travelers from outside the Northwest Territories, ”said a new statement from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated 8:45 am ET

What is happening in the world

As of Friday morning, more than 278.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University case tracker. The death toll worldwide stood at nearly 5.4 million.

The Flightaware website reported that global airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights today. Some carriers have said some flights have been scrapped due to the impact on flight crews from illnesses largely linked to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In Australia, the federal government has reduced the wait time for people to receive booster shots. From January 4, the country will offer booster shots to all people over the age of 18 who have received their second vaccine injection four months earlier. The interval would be reduced again to three months by the end of the month, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said. The move comes as Omicron cases in Australia hit 9,100 on Friday, up from 8,200 yesterday’s record.

In India, Allahabad High Court judges in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to suspend political rallies and election campaigns in areas slated for elections early next year. Despite the increase in the number of infections from the Omicron variant, political parties, including Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party, have held rallies and meetings where crowds continue to ignore pandemic protocols. The judges said that, if possible, the elections due in February 2022 should be postponed for a few months.

In South Africa, people without symptoms of COVID-19 will not need to test or isolate if they have come in contact with a positive case, the government said on Friday. The country’s health ministry said people will no longer need to self-isolate, but should watch for symptoms for five to seven days and avoid attending large gatherings. The South African experiment is being watched closely as it was one of the first to identify the Omicron variant.

– From The Associated Press and Reuters, latest update 8:45 a.m. ET

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