- Canada quietly updates COVID-19 guidelines on risk of airborne spread.
- Polypropylene is now recommended in masks. Should I be concerned? Your mask questions answered.
- Parties agree to fast-track rent-relief bill through Commons by week’s end.
- What to expect from Ontario’s budget as COVID-19 ravages the economy.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.
Germany has recorded nearly 20,000 new coronavirus cases in one day, its highest level yet.
The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, on Thursday said 19,990 infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours. That tops the previous record of 19,059 set on Saturday. It brought the total case tally in Germany, a nation of 83 million people, since the pandemic began to 597,583. Another 118 deaths raised the total to 10,930.
Like other countries in Europe, Germany has seen a sharp rise in infections in recent weeks. A four-week partial shutdown took effect on Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure and sports facilities being closed and new contact restrictions imposed. Shops and schools remain open.
Although Germany’s situation is alarming officials, many other European countries are in worse shape. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday that Germany has 237 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days — some seven times lower than in Belgium.
Four regions in Italy are being put under severe lockdown, forbidding people to leave their homes except for essential reasons, in an effort to slow surging COVID-19 infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday night announced what he described as “very stringent” restrictions on the so-called “red zone” regions of high risk: Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta in the north and Calabria, the region forming the “toe” in the south of the Italian peninsula.
Except for a few circumstances, no one will be allowed to enter or leave “red zone” regions or even travel between their towns, although people can exercise by themselves and while wearing masks near home. Non-essential stores will be closed, although barber shops and hair salons can stay open, and only nursery, elementary and the first year of middle school will have in-class instruction.
Conte said the lockdown will begin Friday to allow time to organize. Designations will be reviewed every two weeks.
Meanwhile, in England, a four-week lockdown began Thursday that will shut all shops selling items deemed non-essential, such as books and clothes. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have also announced wide-ranging restrictions on economic activity.
What’s happening in Canada
As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 248,218 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 206,037 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,336.
In Manitoba, the province’s top doctor is urging people to help “turn the tide on the transmission of this virus” as case numbers rise. Hospitals in the province were working to make space as health officials on Wednesday reported 374 new cases of COVID-19, it’s second-highest daily tally. The province had 140 people in hospital, with 21 in intensive care.
“We announced 21 deaths in the last week alone. We had 21 deaths related to the flu last year in total,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday.
“We’ve learned a lot over time from this virus, but what we always knew is that this is not simply the flu.”
COVID-19 more dangerous than the flu, warns Manitoba’s top doctor
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford’s government is set to unveil its first pandemic-era budget, which is expected to lay out the details of the next stage of its COVID-19 response.
On Wednesday, health officials in Ontario reported 987 new cases of COVID-19, with 16 new deaths.
The province, which recently unveiled a new colour-coded framework around COVID-19 restrictions, reported 367 hospitalizations, with 75 in ICU.
Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions system under fire
Ontario has announced a new tiered system for triggering COVID-19 restriction, but critics say the sky-high thresholds won’t stop the virus from spreading across the province.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault is slated to give a COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon. The province reported 1,029 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 33 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including eight in the past 24 hours.
Hospitalizations increased by 13 compared with the prior day, to 539, and 81 people were in intensive care, a decrease of four.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, New Brunswick reported three new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case, bringing an end to an eight-day run with no new cases in that province. Prince Edward Island has no active cases of the novel coronavirus.
Across the North, there were no new cases in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. But N.W.T.’s chief public health officer cautioned Wednesday that “more cases are inevitable” as cases mount across much of Canada.
British Columbia reported 335 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 273. An update from provincial health officials said there were 92 people in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.
3-layer masks now recommended for COVID-19
In Alberta, another Calgary hospital is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. The province reported 515 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and five additional deaths. The province reported 164 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 30 in ICU.
In Saskatchewan, which reported 37 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the provincial health authority is stepping up its staffing to allow for more contact tracing.
What’s happening around the world
In the Americas, the U.S. set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases as several states posted all-time highs Wednesday, underscoring the vexing issue confronting the winner of the presidential race.
The total U.S. death toll is already more than 232,000, and total confirmed U.S. cases have surpassed nine million. Those are the highest totals in the world, and new infections are increasing in nearly every state.
In Minnesota, hospitals are under pressure and ICU beds are nearing full capacity as coronavirus cases reach a new high and hospitalizations continue to surge.
Hospitals in hard-hit El Paso, Texas, are also under serious pressure, with 1,041 hospitalizations reported on Wednesday.
“Our hospitals are near breaking point. We need everyone to do their part to stop this virus,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health authority for the city and county.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sending additional medical personnel and equipment to the city and local officials ordered a two-week shutdown of non-essential activities.
In Chile, President Sebastian Pinera said the country’s health regulator had given the go-ahead for clinical trials of AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Asia-Pacific region, mainland China has barred entry to some travellers from Britain and Belgium and set strict testing requirements on visitors from the United States, France and Germany, as it reimposed border restrictions in response to rising global cases.
Australia has agreed to purchase another 50 million doses of two more COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as Canberra aims to complete a mass inoculation program within months.
The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 704 deaths from COVID-19 across the country, raising its toll for the pandemic to 124,315.
In South Africa, the hardest-hit country in Africa, health officials and cabinet members are urging people to keep following guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address the nation next week, according to local media. The country has more than 730,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 19,500 reported deaths.
In the Middle East, Bahrain has granted emergency approval for the use of a Chinese vaccine candidate currently in Phase III trials on front-line workers, state news agency BNA said.
With files from CBC News, Reuters and The Canadian Press
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