Today’s coronavirus news in Toronto, Ontario, December 31

The latest coronavirus news in Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:30 Restaurants in Canada are scaling back their plans for New Years Eve again or shutting their doors completely amid rising COVID-19 cases and renewed public health measures across the country.

For the second year in a row, the pandemic has alleviated what is usually one of the biggest nights of the year – a celebration that, in good times, generates sales that help the hospitality industry through the winter months. gloomy.

Restaurants, bars and event venues face a range of restrictions, from capacity limits to rules banning dancing and absolute curfews.

Many restaurant owners are now grappling with canceled reservations or refunded tickets as the highly transferable variant of Omicron decimates the festive plans of Canadians who just weeks ago seemed like a safe bet.

10:22 Ontario is reporting 16,713 new cases of COVID-19, with 1,144 people hospitalized and 205 people in intensive care. The seven-day moving average of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is 185.

90.8% of Ontarians aged 12 and over have one dose and 88.1% have two doses.

Note: This will be the last day that Star focuses on the number of cases due to a gear change.

9:36 am: ‘We knew numbers were a problem ”: Nursing shortage exposed as healthcare systems grapple with Omicron. Read the full Star’s Omar Mosleh story here.

9:30 am: New nurses in Ontario are “too stretched, too often, too soon”. This is the reality of working under COVID-19.

As more experienced nurses leave the profession, this leaves fewer opportunities for peer support, which one expert says is key to retaining new nurses.

Read the full story of Star’s Urbi Khan.

9:25 am: Perhaps one of the defining characteristics of the Omicron wave here in Canada is our sense of the imperability of the virus.

During the first wave of the pandemic, public health measures often limited the spread of the virus to isolated outbreaks, tragically killing people in sensitive places such as long-term care homes. With beta and delta-type COVID-19, the community spread of the virus was significantly curbed as vaccination progressed.

Now, as the COVID-19 curve turns into an almost vertical line and several provinces place strict limits on who can get tested because so many are at risk, our collective sense of being able to avoid infection is shaken. Omicron seems truly unstoppable.

Read the full story of Alex McKeen from The Star.

8:15 am: New coronavirus infections in Australia again skyrocketed to a record high of over 32,000 on Friday, just days after surpassing 10,000 for the first time.

Experts say the explosion is due to the highly contagious variant of omicron and a recent easing of restrictions in Sydney and other areas.

More than 15,000 of the new cases have been reported in Sydney. Another 5,000 cases have come from elsewhere in the state of New South Wales, while nearly 6,000 have been confirmed in the state of Victoria, home to Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne.

While hospitalizations and deaths have increased since the outbreak, so far they have not reached the comparative levels seen in previous outbreaks. And many cities are planning to move forward with New Years celebrations, including the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge fireworks display and the Sydney Opera House.

8:15 am: Hong Kong has confirmed the first cases of community transmission of the omicron variant of COVID-19, linked to an airline crew member who returned from the United States and had lunch at a restaurant two days later.

Two other people eating at the Moon Palace restaurant on Monday were infected. One was the father of the Cathay Pacific crew member and the other was a construction worker who dined 10 meters (30 feet) away.

Health Secretary Sophia Chan told a press conference on Friday that city chief Carrie Lam had expressed deep displeasure to the president of the airline and his CEO that some staff had violates a 3-day self-isolation rule after returning home. The Health Secretary called their actions “irresponsible”.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement that five crew members recently tested positive for omicron and some did not follow regulations. He apologized and said they would be disciplined.

Hong Kong has registered 81 cases of omicron. The others were among those who arrived from overseas.

8:15 am: Pope Francis has canceled his New Year’s Eve tradition of visiting the full-size nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square to discourage large crowds from forming.

Meanwhile, major Italian cities have abandoned their traditional outdoor concerts on December 31 as Italy battles a record increase in coronavirus cases.

Francis continues his traditional service of vespers on December 31 inside the basilica and will celebrate New Year’s mass as planned.

The Vatican has largely followed Italy’s lead in imposing crowd restrictions. Many Italian cities opt for streaming concerts or theatrical productions where public access can be controlled to check health cards.

In addition, the city of Naples has outright banned the use of fireworks in an attempt to prevent crowds from forming in a city known for its explosive December 31 festivities.

8:14 am: Pakistan’s planning minister said his country had met its goal of fully immunizing 70 million people by the end of 2021.

Friday’s announcement comes as Pakistan recently stepped up its vaccination campaign as the new variant of omicron spreads.

Planning Minister Asad Umar took to Twitter to thank the health workers who worked to reach the goal.

Since last year, Pakistan has administered 155 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, fully immunizing more than 70 million in the South Asian country of about 220 million people. It brings the vaccination rate to 44%.

Pakistan has so far relied mainly on Chinese vaccines, although it has also received millions of vaccine doses under the COVAX program.

8:13 am: Good riddance until 2021. May 2022 bring new hope.

It was a common feeling as people around the world started to welcome the New Year.

In many places, New Years celebrations have been cut or canceled for the second year in a row due to a wave of coronavirus infections, this time brought on by the highly contagious variant of omicron.

Even before omicron struck, many people were happy to say goodbye to a second year of pandemic crisis.

But so far, at least, the omicron surge has not resulted in the same levels of hospitalizations and deaths as previous outbreaks – especially among those vaccinated – offering a silver lining for 2022.

New Zealand was one of the first places to celebrate the New Year with an inconspicuous display of lights cast over Auckland landmarks including the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge. This replaced the traditional fireworks display. Although there has not yet been a community spread of omicron in New Zealand, authorities still wanted to discourage crowd gatherings.

Neighboring Australia, however, continued to celebrate despite an explosion in cases of the virus. Some fireworks were set off in the early evening to give the youngest a glimpse of the centerpiece of the festivities, the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House fireworks.

Hours before the celebrations began, Australian health officials reported a record 32,000 new cases of the virus, many in Sydney. Due to the wave, crowds were much smaller than in the pre-pandemic years, when as many as 1 million revelers crowded inside Sydney.

Due to the location of the international date line, countries in Asia and the Pacific region are among the first to usher in each new year.

8:10 am: With the relentless wave of the Omicron variant now pushing the number of COVID-19 cases to new highs almost daily, governments across Canada are responding with tighter pandemic restrictions.

The rapidly rising tide of COVID cases has prompted some provinces to change their back-to-school plans by extending vacations. In Ontario, the resumption of in-person classes is delayed until Wednesday, in Alberta until January 10, and in Quebec until at least January 17.

Nova Scotia announced that starting Monday, people aged 30 and over will be eligible for booster injections, while in Ontario, publicly funded PCR tests are limited to only those at high risk who are symptomatic or at risk for serious illness.

Meanwhile, a new study from Public Health Ontario suggests that people infected with the highly transmissible variant of Omicron are significantly less likely to be hospitalized or die than those infected with Delta. Yet the Public Health Agency of Canada noted Thursday that an average of 1,892 people with COVID-19 were treated in Canadian hospitals every day this week, 23% more than last week.

8h: A ban on private gatherings is now in effect in Quebec and a COVID-19 curfew is expected to begin at 10 p.m.

Prime Minister François Legault announced the new restrictions at a press conference last night in Montreal.

Legault says hospitals across the province risk being overwhelmed as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise and hospitalizations linked to the disease have doubled in a week.

Legault also ordered restaurants to close their dining halls and said in-person classes at schools, universities and colleges would not resume until at least January 17.

The closure of places of worship has also been ordered, with the exception of the funeral which will be limited to 25 people.

The curfew prohibits people from going out, with a few exceptions, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and Legault says the province will report more than 16,000 new cases of COVID-19 today.

Quebec is the only province to use a curfew as part of its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, a previous curfew was in effect from January 9, 2021 to May 28.

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