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

December 17, 2021
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday


The latest:

Nova Scotia’s premier and chief medical officer of health are expected to provide an update on the pandemic and the Omicron variant later Friday, a day after their province and neighbouring New Brunswick both reported record high single-day COVID-19 case numbers.

Dr. Robert Strang will appear with Premier Tim Houston at 2 p.m. local time.

Nova Scotia on Thursday reported 287 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. In New Brunswick, there were 177 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday.

Tightened restrictions around masking, distancing and gathering limits took effect in Nova Scotia on Friday.

The updates from health officials in Atlantic Canada comes amid a push for Canadians to get their vaccine booster shots as the Omicron variant spreads across the country, triggering more pandemic restrictions in some provinces.

Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t provide updated COVID-19 figures on Thursday, though an update is expected Friday.

In Prince Edward Island, which is the only province or territory in Canada that has not reported a COVID-19 death, health officials on Thursday reported 10 new cases, bringing the number of active cases on the island to 49. 

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:50 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Restrictions tighten as Omicron cases surge across Canada: 

Restrictions tighten as Omicron cases surge across Canada

As the Omicron variant continues to spread across Canada, several provinces are tightening restrictions to combat rising COVID-19 cases. But some provinces are hoping expanding booster shot availability will prevent further shutdowns. 3:08

In Quebec, Premier François Legault ramped up COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday as his province saw 2,736 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. 

In Ontario, health officials reported 2,421 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths as the province’s science table urged officials to tighten restrictions in a bid to protect the province’s health-care system.

In the Prairies, health officials in Manitoba on Thursday reported the province’s highest single-day COVID-19 case number since June, with 218 cases and two additional deathsSaskatchewan saw 55 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and one additional death, as Premier Scott Moe announced that people aged 18 and up would be eligible for a booster as of Monday. 

Meanwhile, in Alberta, health officials reported 473 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with no additional deaths.

In British Columbia, health officials on Thursday reported 753 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths. 

Across the North, there were eight cases of COVID-19 reported in Yukon and seven additional cases reported in the Northwest Territories. There were no new cases reported in Nunavut.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 9 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Ottawa’s renewed travel warnings sparks passenger anxiety: 

Ottawa’s renewed travel warnings sparks passenger anxiety

Would-be Canadian travellers are again anxious after the federal government renewed warnings against non-essential international travel to try and reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. 2:02

As of early Friday morning, more than 273 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.3 million.

In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is making good progress with his recovery from COVID-19 while continuing to receive treatment for mild symptoms, the presidency said on Friday. Ramaphosa, who was given Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in February, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

In Europe, Denmark’s prime minister said Friday that his government is moving to close theatres, cinemas, concert halls, amusement parks, museums and art galleries as part of new restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the proposed measures also would require stores smaller than 2,000 square metres and restaurants to limit the number of customers. The Danish government is advising residents to limit social contacts over the Christmas holidays and urged public and private companies to have employees work from home where possible.

“We are not talking about shutting down the whole country as we did last year,” Frederiksen said. “Our goal is still to keep as large sections of society open as possible. We need to curb activity. We all need to limit our social contacts.”

The partial shutdown order requires parliamentary approval. Lawmakers on the 21-member epidemic committee were scheduled to meet Friday afternoon.

The new variant “spreads at lightning speed. It would be irresponsible not to recommend new restrictions,” said Soeren Brostroem, head of the Danish Health Authority.

Lars Sandahl Sorensen, head of the Confederation of Danish Industry, representing approximately 18,000 companies in Denmark, said the move “was not on anyone’s wish list. Not at all. It will unfortunately be a sad Christmas for many.”

Denmark currently requires face masks on public transportation and in shops. The government wants to extend the mask mandate to include educational institutions and places of worship.

Like many other European countries, Denmark is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with health authorities saying the number of infections and hospitalizations has risen faster than expected. The country reported 9,999 new cases on Thursday, and the number was above 11,000 on Friday, the prime minister said.

Last year, Denmark was one of the first European countries to close schools because of the pandemic, and the government sent home all public employees without critical functions. The government also barred gatherings of more than 100 people.

Nurse Sheena Davis administers a dose of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the Keystone First Wellness Center in Chester, Pa., on Wednesday. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Americans choose to receive one of two other authorized vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s shot, due to rare but sometimes fatal cases of blood-clotting.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday his government is accelerating COVID-19 booster shots and securing oral medicines after speaking with Pfizer’s CEO. Japan has confirmed a handful of Omicron variant cases, while revealing a cluster of infections of about 100 U.S. troops on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa since earlier this month. Japan, which lacks home-developed vaccines, has so far approved booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna. Japan is also moving to shorten the interval between the second jab and boosters.

In the Middle East, the Palestinian health ministry reported its first cases of the Omicron variant in the territory.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 10 a.m. ET


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