Manitoba will allow more people to gather outdoors but is largely sticking with existing red level restrictions, the province's chief public health officer said Tuesday, citing a need to be cautious as the province sees a "slow increase" in case numbers and an increasing proportion of variant cases.
The Manitoba government is increasing the number of people allowed to gather outdoors to 25 from 10. It's one of a small number of COVID-19 restrictions being eased starting Friday.
The limit on people allowed to attend weddings and funerals will also rise to 25 people from 10. For retail outlets, operators will be allowed to go to either 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people — whichever is lower.
Premier Brian Pallister said the changes were "cautious" and designed to protect the well-being of people in the province.
Manitoba on Tuesday reported one COVID-19 death and 98 new cases. However, five cases were removed due to data correction, for a net increase of 93.
Dr. Brent Roussin, echoing comments made by Canada's chief public health officer and many of his provincial colleagues, expressed concern about increasing variant of concern cases.
"We know these variants spread much more readily, and so we need to continue to do what we can to limit that transmission," Roussin said on Tuesday. "There continues to be reasons to be optimistic, but we need to be cautious in the meantime."
Roussin said the province doesn't have "nearly the amount" of vaccine coverage to change the province's public health measures, but he said "we can be optimistic that more and more vaccine is on its way over time."
In neighbouring Saskatchewan, Regina is heading back to some of the toughest public health restrictions seen during the pandemic because of a concerning spread of COVID-19 variants.
"The rise of the variant cases means we have to continue to be extremely cautious," Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday.
Moe said that for most of the province the number of COVID-19 cases is stable or declining. In Regina, however, "we are seeing case numbers continue to rise, and that is largely due to the high concentration of variant cases."
What's happening across Canada
As of early Wednesday morning, Canada had reported 942,325 cases of COVID-19, with 36,310 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,735.
In Atlantic Canada, health officials reported a total of 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — seven in New Brunswick, two in Prince Edward Island and one in Nova Scotia. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In Quebec, health officials reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 519, with 113 people in intensive care.
Ontario, which is set to present a budget on Wednesday, reported 1,546 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Tuesday. According to provincial data, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province stood at 868, with 324 in intensive care units.
In Alberta, health officials reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 290, with 52 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
British Columbia, meanwhile, reported 682 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. Hospitalizations stood at 314, the province reported, with 83 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
According to a list updated by federal health officials every evening at 7 p.m. ET, as of Tuesday Canada had seen more than 6,200 reported cases of variants of concern, including:
- 5,812 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
- 247 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
- 152 cases of the P1 variant linked to Brazil.
(Read more from CBC's Robson Fletcher about how provinces are working to track variant cases and the challenges of interprovincial comparisons.)
What's happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 124.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called an unexpected meeting with leaders of the federal states to discuss the coronavirus pandemic after they agreed early on Tuesday to extend a lockdown.
Poland will likely have to toughen restrictions again after reporting what early figures suggest will be a record number of new infections.
Spain's coronavirus infection rate edged up, highlighting concern that a long decline is in danger of reversing.
In the Americas, Brazil suffered a record 3,251 COVID-19 deaths, as pot-banging protests erupted across the country during an address by President Jair Bolsonaro in which he defended his pandemic response and pledged to ramp up vaccinations.
Colombia will impose new restrictions on movement and enact nightly curfews in municipalities with high occupancy levels in intensive care units as it tries to avoid a severe third wave of COVID-19.
In Africa, the first 165,000 of up to seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses that MTN Group is donating to African countries have arrived in Ghana.
In the Middle East Lebanon reported 42 additional deaths and more than 3,850 cases of COVID-19, health officials reported on Tuesday. The country, which is also in the midst of economic and political turmoil, is awaiting delivery of doses of both the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines, local media reported.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan's top health official said Wednesday his country will purchase one million doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine and 60,000 doses of the vaccine made by Chinese company CanSino Biologics.
Faisal Sultan, a special assistant to the prime minister, said on Twitter that an order has been placed for the purchase of Chinese-made vaccines, which will be delivered to Pakistan within days. The purchases will be in addition to 1.5 million doses of vaccine that China is donating to Pakistan in phases. Without giving more details, Sultan said Pakistan will also receive several million doses of vaccines in April.
Pakistan is currently facing a third wave of coronavirus infections.
Also on Wednesday, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the government is ordering the closure of schools in the capital, Islamabad, and in several other high-risk cities until April 11.
Hong Kong authorities halted the use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech citing defective packaging, triggering scenes of confusion at inoculation centres across the city.
With files The Canadian Press, Reuters and CBC News
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca