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

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Quebec Premier François Legault will hold a news conference this afternoon to address the resignation of the province's director of public health.

Quebec Premier François Legault, centre, is set to speak Tuesday after accepting the resignation of the province's public health director, Horacio Arruda, left.(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

Quebec Premier François Legault will hold a news conference this afternoon to address the resignation of the province's director of public health.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, a key leader in the province's pandemic response, tendered his resignation Monday, and Legault's office tells The Canadian Press the premier accepted it. Legault is set to speak at 1 p.m. ET.

On Monday, Quebec reported 2,554 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 — a new pandemic high — as well as 248 intensive care cases. The province has reported 11,966 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Arruda wrote in a letter dated Monday that his office has offered public health opinions and recommendations amid uncertainty and based on the best available knowledge and various expert opinions. But he acknowledged there was a "certain erosion" in public support for health measures.

"In such a context, I consider it appropriate to offer you the possibility of replacing me before the end of my term of office."

Arruda's contract was renewed for three years in August 2020.

In recent weeks, the province has brought back several stringent health measures, including a curfew for a second year in a row, amid rising infections and hospitalizations.

Radio-Canada has reported that Arruda will be replaced by Dr. Luc Boileau.


What's happening across Canada

People wait outside a vaccine clinic at a mall in Fredericton on Monday as booster dose eligibility in New Brunswick was expanded to everyone aged 18 and up.(Jocelyn Elsdon/CBC)

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia on Monday reported three additional COVID-19 deaths and 59 hospitalizations, with two people in intensive care units. The update came as the province — which recently shifted temporarily to remote education — reported an additional 816 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials on Monday reported two additional deaths and four COVID-19 hospitalizations. Health officials reported a total of 1,135 cases on Monday — but that figure included 680 positives that had been sent for testing at out-of-province labs because of capacity issues. More results from out of province are expected in the days ahead, the health minister said.

In Prince Edward Island, five people were in hospital being treated for COVID-19, health officials reported Monday, including one in intensive care. The province also reported 320 additional cases since the last update on Saturday.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations in New Brunswick hit a pandemic high, with 86 people in hospital, including 13 in ICU. The province, which saw 220 lab-confirmed cases, has expanded booster dose eligibility to adults over the age of 18.

In Central Canada, Ontario students will return to classrooms next Monday after pivoting to remote learning after the holiday break — a sudden shift that sparked heated debate.

"As planned and previously announced, students will return to in-person learning on Monday, January 17," Ford's director of media relations, Ivana Yelich, said in an email on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Christine Elliott is set to speak on the issue at 12:30 p.m. ET, alongside Matthew Anderson, the CEO of Ontario Health. The province's health-care system has been under growing strain in recent weeks due to the highly transmissible variant, which has also caused staffing shortages across several sectors.

The province on Monday reported 12 additional deaths and 2,467 hospitalizations, with 438 people in ICU. Ontario, which is one of many regions in the country to ration access to lab tests for COVID-19, also reported 9,706 additional lab-confirmed cases.

Across the North, health officials in Yukon said people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 and aren't eligible for a lab-based PCR test can pick up a rapid test at a drive-thru location in Whitehorse.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba health officials on Monday said there were 378 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 39 in intensive care units. The province, which reported 19 additional deaths over a period of three days, saw 7,083 lab-confirmed cases since the last update.

In Saskatchewan, the total hospitalizations stood at 119 on Monday, health officials reported, with 11 in ICU. There were no additional deaths reported on Monday, as the province recorded 1.069 additional lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Alberta, meanwhile, reported 635 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 72 people in ICU. The update came as the province reported six additional deaths since its update last week, and 17,577 additional lab-confirmed cases.

In British Columbia, provincial health officials on Monday reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 431, with 95 people in intensive care units. The update came as the province's health ministry reported seven additional deaths since last week's update, along with 6,966 more lab-confirmed cases.


What's happening around the world

A member of the vaccination team prepares a shot for a patient as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a constituency visit to Boots pharmacy on Monday in Uxbridge, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As of early Tuesday morning, roughly 310.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.4 million.

In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a wave of public and political outrage on Tuesday over allegations that he and his staff flouted coronavirus lockdown rules by holding a garden party in 2020 while Britons were barred by law from mingling outside the home.

Opposition politicians called for a police investigation after broadcaster ITV published a leaked email invitation to "socially distanced drinks" in the garden of the prime minister's Downing Street office and residence in May 2020. The email from the prime minister's private secretary, Martin Reynolds, was sent to dozens of people and urged attendees to "bring your own booze."

The event was scheduled for May 20, 2020 — the same day the government at a televised news conference reminded people they could only meet up with one person outside their household. London's Metropolitan Police force also published reminders about the rules that day.

The police force said Tuesday it was "in contact with" the government over the party claims, which follow allegations of several other rule-breaking gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic.

During Britain's first lockdown, which began in March 2020 and lasted for more than two months, gatherings were banned with a few exceptions, including work and funerals. Millions of people were cut off from friends and family, and even barred from visiting dying relatives in hospitals. On the day of the garden party, 268 people with the coronavirus died in Britain, according to official figures, bringing total deaths to more than 36,000. The total now stands at over 150,000, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.

The opposition Labour Party demanded that Johnson answer questions about the allegations in Parliament — but the government sent a junior minister, Michael Ellis, to face lawmakers instead. Ellis apologized "for the upset that these allegations have caused" but said he could not comment further because an investigation was underway.

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said Johnson's "absence speaks volumes."

"He can run but he can't hide," she said.

In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department advised against travel to neighbouring Canada, and the Washington Post reported that it is considering recommending better masks.

In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced he had contracted COVID-19 for a second time, saying he had a mild case and would keep working in isolation until he had recovered.

In the Asia-Pacific region, cities across China are imposing tougher restrictions to try to control new outbreaks of COVID-19, with Tianjin now battling the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has already been detected in at least two other provinces.

In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Monday reported 2,409 additional cases and 77 deaths.

In the Middle East, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he had tested positive but was in good health.

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press and Reuters

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