Manitoba is closing classrooms in it’s two largest cities as the province’s top doctor says more needs to be done to slow community spread of COVID-19 and “break these transmission chains.”
Manitoba on Sunday reported 531 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths, all linked to the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said Sunday that while schools have done an “excellent” job protecting staff and students, officials are seeing “a great deal of community transmission right now.”
Students from kindergarten through to Grade 12 in Winnipeg and Brandon will move to remote learning as of Wednesday — and will stay out of class until May 30. Schools in the rest of the province remain open, but face tight protocols aimed at clamping down on COVID-19.
‘Regular conversations’ between provinces, Ottawa
Alberta, which has implemented a range of new limits, including a shift to online learning, restrictions on retail and most recently closing restaurant patios and personal wellness services, on Sunday reported 1,633 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu told CBC’s Rosemary Barton this weekend that Ottawa is in “regular conversations with all of the provinces and territories about how we can best help them.”
Hajdu said that she is set to speak to her counterpart in Manitoba in the coming week, and noted that she recently spoke to Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro to reiterate the services Ottawa can offer.
“We can’t take this virus lightly, we cannot assume … we are out of the woods,” Hajdu said. “We can see the finish line, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that the hard work ends today, or ends in two months.”
Vaccination is a powerful tool, she said, but everyone still needs to “work hard” to bring case numbers down and end outbreaks.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 1,289,395 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 80,374 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,645.
Ontario on Monday reported 2,716 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional deaths. According to the province, hospitalizations stood at 1,632, with 828 people in ICU as a result of COVID-19.
Across the North, Nunavut on Monday reported seven new cases of COVID-19. Premier Joe Savikataaq said as of Monday, there were 70 active cases — all in Iqaluit. Health officials in the Northwest Territories and Yukon will provide updates on COVID-19 later Monday.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with the vast majority in the province’s central health zone, which includes Halifax.
Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Premier Iain Rankin are set to hold a briefing later Monday.
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In Quebec, health officials on Sunday reported 960 new cases and six additional deaths.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said vaccinations and public co-operation with COVID-19 health restrictions mean the province can begin to loosen rules at the end of this month. The province is setting May 30 as the target date for the first step of its COVID-19 “Re-opening Roadmap.”
British Columbia health officials will provide updated figures covering the weekend later Monday.
What’s happening around the world
As of early Monday morning, more than 158.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll was approaching 3.3. million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka authorities are converting garment factories and other buildings for facilities to treat COVID-19 patients amid fears existing hospitals may run out of capacity. Armed forces are acquiring buildings in all parts of the country and converting them to hospitals to increase capacity, said army commander Gen. Shavendra Silva, head of the country’s COVID-19 operations centre.
Sri Lanka is experiencing a sharp surge in infections, reporting 2,000 new cases for the first time on Monday.
India will recruit hundreds of former army medics to support its overwhelmed health-care system, the defence ministry said on Sunday, as the country grappled with surging COVID-19 infections and deaths amid calls for a complete nationwide lockdown.
Japan’s leader insisted Monday that the country can host the Summer Olympics safely despite repeated questions from opposition lawmakers asking him to explain how that’s possible and consider cancelling the event.
Concerns are rising about the ability of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government to get infections under control ahead of the Olympics, which start in just over two months. Suga decided Friday to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo until May 31 and expand the measure to six prefectures from the current four.
In Africa, South Africa’s Health Ministry said it had detected the first four cases of a new coronavirus variant that emerged in India and was responsible for a surge of infections and deaths in the Asian country.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has announced it will bar airline passengers arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka starting May 12 until further notice, as concern mounts over a virus variant spreading in India.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was opposed to waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines as this could jeopardize the quality of shots against the disease.
The European Union has not made any new orders for AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June when its contract ends, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said, after the EU signed a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech.
In the Americas, the U.S. has long way to go to recover from the pandemic and many Americans are still struggling to return to work and last week’s lower-than-expected jobs numbers were a reflection of that, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Sunday.
With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and The Associated Press
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