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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday – CBC News

Large parts of Canada are starting to hunker down, with new restrictions coming into effect as a fifth wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Omicron coronavirus variant.

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Omicron does not appear to be less severe than Delta, says U.K. epidemiologist

While some health officials have said Omicron seems milder than previous variants of the coronavirus, British epidemiologist, Dr. John Edmunds says there is no evidence of that, but vaccinations appear to blunt its effect.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) 2:22

The latest:

Large parts of Canada are starting to hunker down, with new restrictions coming into effect as a fifth wave of COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, fuelled by the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Quebec on Tuesday reported yet another single-day high, with more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19. The update came as the City of Montreal declared a local state of emergency in the face of quickly rising case numbers.

Prince Edward Island ramped up restrictions on Tuesday, including a quarantine requirement for people coming onto the island.

Health officials in several provinces and territories — Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — are expected to hold COVID-19 briefings Tuesday.

Other parts of the country also experienced a surge in new cases unseen since before the summer as the Omicron variant, identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a potential concern only last month, has become increasingly prevalent in Canada.

And while hospitalizations have remained steady in Ontario and some other parts of Canada, a recent spike in the number of severe cases in Quebec has added to concerns that the rest of the country could soon follow.

In response to the growing wave, several provinces have started to reimpose public health restrictions only days before the start of the holiday season that in many cases apply to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

In Ontario, new limits on social gatherings and capacity limits in stores and restaurants came into effect Sunday as the provincial government struggled to get escalating case counts under control. Restrictions came into effect in British Columbia and Quebec on Monday, and Manitoba on Tuesday.

The fifth wave has also sparked a rush for booster shots as the Omicron variant has caused a surge of infections among both vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam talks about Omicron — and how it’s spreading: 

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Dr. Theresa Tam warns more restrictions needed to slow Omicron’s spread

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam tells Andrew Chang that slowing down the spread of the Omicron variant will require additional restrictions, better masks and improved access to vaccines. 5:42

For more details on how COVID-19 is impacting your community — including hospital data and the latest on restrictions — check out the coverage from CBC newsrooms around the country.

In Prince Edward Island, the premier announced ramped-up restrictions and announced adjusted rules for incoming travellers on Tuesday, as health officials reported 29 new cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Morrison announces 29 new cases of COVID-19, active case count is 112.

4 of those are not permanent residents, but are isolating here and being managed by public health. Going forward, Morrison says these types of cases will be counted as new cases, but not in active count

@nicolammacleod

Nova Scotia reported another single-day high of new cases, with 522. “We are moving backwards and not forwards,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, as the province announced a reduction in gathering limits, which come into effect Wednesday.

WATCH | Nova Scotia premier explains why new restrictions are necessary: 

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Need to go further with restrictions, Nova Scotia premier says

Citing a number of factors including high case counts and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said the province needs to further tighten restrictions that were announced just last week. 2:43

New Brunswick reported 156 new cases reported Tuesday, but the premier warned that given what is happening in other parts of the country, people should expect numbers to rise. Blaine Higgs announced a tightening of restrictions in the province, too, lowering gathering capacities in an effort to help people reduce their contacts.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 27 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

In Quebec, health officials on Tuesday reported 5,043 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. The update comes after Health Minister Christian Dubé announced sweeping new restrictions on Monday aimed at slowing the spread of the new variant.

“The epidemiological situation is critical,” Dubé said at the briefing on Monday. “Our health system is already in crisis … and things aren’t getting better.”

In Ontario, health officials on Monday reported 3,453 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. The update came as adults in the province scrambled to get booster-shot appointments after the province expanded eligibility.

Across the North, Nunavut on Tuesday reported two additional cases in Pangnirtung, though health officials said full lab results weren’t expected until later in the day.

“At this time, we do not know which variant this is, but in light of the threat of Omicron, we are tightening public health measures in the community to limit possible spread to other communities,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.  “We will know the variant strain within approximately a week.”  

Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated information for the day.

In the Prairies, Manitoba‘s new restrictions came into effect on Tuesday, as the province reported 302 new COVID-19 cases. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, saw 59 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as health officials expanded access to booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Alberta, 1,925 COVID-19 cases were reported over three days, health officials said Monday, along with six additional deaths. The province is opening up booster-shot eligibility to everyone over 18, effective immediately, as long as it’s been at least five months since their last shot.

Breaking: Alberta is opening up COVID-19 booster shots to everyone over 18, effective immediately. Anyone can book as long as it’s been longer than 5 months since your last shot. #ableg #cdnpoli

@elisevonscheel

In British Columbia, health officials on Monday reported 2,550 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths over three days.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 2 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

visus outbreak washington

Katherine Thompson, an emergency medical technician working as a contractor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gives a person a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot on Monday in Federal Way, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 275.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.3 million.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden is increasing support for hospitals, improving access to COVID-19 tests and expanding the availability of vaccines that can reduce the risks from the Omicron variant. In a speech from the White House Tuesday, he announced the government will purchase a half billion rapid at-home tests to be delivered for free beginning in January to Americans who request them.

“Omicron spreads easily especially among the unvaccinated,” he said, while announcing the government will also set up more mass public testing sites where case rates are high, offering free COVID-19 tests in an effort to reduce wait times and long lines. 

Biden stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to protect from a wave of infections tied to Omicron as Christmas approaches, saying people have a duty to their family, friends and country to get the shot. 

“Get vaccinated now. It’s free. It’s convenient,” he said. “I promise you, it saves lives, and I honest-to-God believe it is your patriot duty.”

Meanwhile, Panama has detected its first Omicron case, while neighbouring Costa Rica detected three more confirmed cases.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand on Tuesday decided to immediately reimpose a mandatory quarantine for visitors and suspend a “test-and-go” scheme for fully vaccinated arrivals as concerns grow over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the government said. The decision is a blow to efforts to revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector ahead of the peak holiday season.

About 200,000 people who have registered for the “test-and-go” scheme, known as Thailand Pass, but have not yet entered Thailand will be allowed to come, a spokesperson said. They will be subject to a coronavirus test on arrival and a second test seven days later at the expense of the government.

In Africa, Kenya on Monday reported 1,020 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. In South Africa, which raised the alarm about the new Omicron variant, health officials on Monday reported 8,515 new cases and 105 additional deaths.

In Europe,  Portugal on Tuesday ordered nightclubs and bars to shut doors and told people to work from home from Dec. 26 to at least Jan. 9 to control the spread of COVID-19 over the holiday period. Prime Minister Antonio Costa also announced that a negative coronavirus test would be required to stay at Portuguese hotels and said authorities would limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people per group on New Year’s Eve.

In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 2,413 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 2:35 p.m. ET