Four provinces reported four-digit totals of new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as British Columbia saw a record number of coronavirus patients in its hospitals and Yukon confirmed the presence of a variant of concern in the territory.
With 1,168 new cases, B.C. had the fourth-highest such daily total among provinces reporting on Wednesday. It also reported six additional deaths. Health officials said the province now has more patients in hospital with COVID-19 than at any prior point in the pandemic.
In neighbouring Alberta, 1,412 new cases and eight additional deaths were reported.
It was announced Wednesday that Grade 7 to 12 students at Calgary public and Catholic schools would be moving to online learning next week. Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks and came at the urging of school boards in the city.
Meanwhile in Ontario, the country’s most populous province reported 4,156 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 1,877, with 642 patients listed as being in ICU due to COVID-19-related illness, the province reported. Some immunization clinics in Ontario were forced to close their doors or cancel appointments due to vaccine shortages.
In Quebec, health officials reported 1,559 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 660, according to a provincial dashboard on COVID-19 in the province, with 152 people in intensive care.
Also Wednesday, Yukon, which reported one new case, revealed that the P1 variant had been detected in the territory for the first time.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 1,087,158 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 80,204 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,445.
In New Brunswick, health officials on Wednesday reported 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 141. Hospitalizations stood at 19, with 13 people in ICU. Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported three new cases, bringing the number of active cases to 14. Nova Scotia reported two new COVID-19 cases. P.E.I. had not reported any new cases as of late Wednesday evening.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 86 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and three additional deaths, while Saskatchewan reported 193 new cases and one additional death.
In the North, no new cases were reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday evening, more than 138 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 2.9 million.
The director of the Pan American Health Organization warned Wednesday that the Americas are not behaving like a region experiencing an ever-graver outbreak of COVID-19.
Carissa Etienne, the organization’s director, told a news conference that the ongoing rise in infections is alarming but not surprising given relaxed restrictions used to curb virus transmission, adding that vaccination will not be enough to stop this wave of contagion.
More people have been infected with COVID-19 in the region during the last seven days than during most weeks last year, Etienne said, while weekly deaths outnumber those of any week in 2020.
In Europe, the European Union signalled Wednesday that it will look to extend a contract to supply the bloc with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In a sign of confidence in a company that has been a mainstay of Europe’s vaccination drive so far, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will start negotiating to buy 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through 2023.
“We need to focus on the technologies that have proven their worth,” von der Leyen said.
Pfizer-BioNTech plans to speed up the delivery of 50 million doses in the second quarter of this year, on top of 200 million doses already earmarked for the bloc, she said. The deliveries will be especially welcomed by the EU’s 27 member nations considering supply delays and concerns over rare blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
Denmark, meanwhile, decided Wednesday not to resume use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after putting it on hold last month following reports of rare blood clots in some recipients. The bulk of the shots given there so far have been the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
In Germany, health authorities were recommending Wednesday that people younger than 60 who have already received one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine use a different vaccine for their second dose over concerns of blood clots.
Spain’s prime minister says his government is maintaining its goal of immunizing 70 per cent of the country’s adult population, some 33 million people, by the end of the summer despite the delay in the European rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In Portugal, lawmakers extended a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin said he had received his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, though the Kremlin wouldn’t reveal which of the three vaccines currently approved for use in Russia the president has taken.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India’s worst-hit and richest state, Maharashtra, will impose stricter restrictions for 15 days on Wednesday in an effort to stem the surge of coronavirus infections that is threatening to overcome hospitals.
India on Wednesday reported more than 180,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, about a third in Maharashtra state, and a total of 13.9 million cases in the pandemic.
Thailand reported 1,335 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — a new daily record that brings the number of new cases to nearly 7,000 since April 1, when a cluster was linked to nightclubs and bars in central Bangkok.
In Africa, South Africa’s decision to suspend the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to preliminary reports of rare blood clots has left the country without any shots.
That comes as it struggles to combat an aggressive coronavirus variant. South Africa’s more than 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases represent more than 30 per cent of all the confirmed cases in Africa.
In the Middle East, Israel said it will reopen the country to vaccinated foreign tourists in May, more than a year after closing its borders to most international visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey reported a record 62,797 cases on Wednesday, as 279 deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours.
With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press and Reuters
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