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

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  • The Maple Leafs’ game against the Canucks in Vancouver has been postponed due to COVID-19 cases.

Many Canadian provinces grappled with an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country on Saturday, with the Omicron variant forcing many jurisdictions to reintroduce public health restrictions just one week before Christmas.

A day after setting a pandemic record of daily cases, Quebec reported 3,631 new infections, two deaths and a sharp increase in hospitalizations in its latest figures.

While new public health measures should begin Monday, Premier François Legault once again warned Quebecers that the province would be hard hit.

“The Omicron variant is advancing at breakneck speed,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday calling for solidarity among the population. “It’s hard to imagine.”

People are lining up to receive a COVID-19 test in Montreal on Friday. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

During this time, Ontario reported 3,301 new infections – the highest tally since early May – and four more deaths.

A 50 percent capacity limit came into effect at venues that accommodate more than 1,000 people in Ontario on Saturday, a day before other restrictions resumed. Starting Sunday, restaurants and retailers will also see their capacity limited to 50% and indoor social gatherings will drop from a maximum of 25 people to 10.

The increase is also observed in other provinces, New Scotland reported 426 new cases – the highest in a single day.

A slew of restrictions are being reintroduced next week by provincial governments as Ottawa tightens border rules from Tuesday, requiring a negative molecular test result before arrival for COVID-19, even for short trips of less than 72 hours.

In announcing the decision on Friday, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos advised Canadians against traveling outside the country, warning that if they fell ill abroad they could find themselves stranded, the government unable to do much to help them.

Faced with the growing threat of COVID-19, provincial governments are forced to respond with measures that are dishearteningly reminiscent of last year’s troubled holiday season.

Monday, British Columbia will impose new restrictions limiting the capacity of large venues to 50%, banning amateur sports tournaments during the holidays and canceling New Years parties.

Manitoba will bring similar restrictions on Tuesday.

What’s happening across Canada

In British Columbia, fears that hundreds of students would be crowded to take final exams prompted a call to cancel in-person exams at the University of British Columbia. Several universities across Canada have already taken this step, including the University of Victoria.

In PEI, health officials said the Charlottetown and Borden-Carleton testing clinics had to close early today due to the high volume of people getting tested.

Across the Confederation Bridge, new restrictions come into effect in New Brunswick. They include limiting contact to a constant group of 20, reestablishing physical distancing in indoor public spaces, and reducing capacity in places such as moving theaters, sports arenas, and casinos.

In Saskatchewan, pharmacists say they don’t have enough staff to handle a growing demand for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as more people become eligible on Monday.

A staff member hands out COVID-19 rapid tests at a Regina public library location on Saturday. (Matthew Howard / CBC)

Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness, said on Saturday that Red Cross nurses will be deployed to Manitoba until January 17 following a request from the provincial government.

In Ontario, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has tested positive for the coronavirus and will remain in isolation for eight days. Watson announced on social media on Monday that he would self-isolate after a staff member came into close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

And in Quebec, Montreal mayor Valérie Plante also announced that she had tested positive on Saturday. Plante said on Friday evening she had been tested and was going into administrative segregation after a case was detected “in her entourage.”

What is happening in the world

As of early Saturday afternoon, more than 273.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll worldwide stood at more than 5.3 million.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries and is spreading rapidly even in places with high population immunity, the World Health Organization said on Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 cases involving omicron doubles every 1.5 to three days in countries where there is community transmission of the variant and not just from those infected abroad, the WHO said in a document. reviewing what is known about the variant.

WATCH | Omicron is spreading in countries with high immunity, according to the WHO:

Omicron spreads in countries with high immunity, WHO says

The World Health Organization says the Omicron variant of the new coronavirus has been reported in 89 countries – cases of COVID-19 doubling about every one to three days. 3:47

In Europe, the Dutch government is imposing strict lockdown measures on the Netherlands from Sunday to curb the Omicron variant.

In the Americas, a U.S. court of appeals panel on Friday cleared President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large private employers to move forward, overturning a previous ruling on a requirement that could affect some 84 million of American workers.

In Africa, Egyptian health officials said they had identified the first cases of Omicron in the country.

In the Asia Pacific region, India has detected a total of 101 cases of the Omicron variant, a health ministry official said.

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