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

December 20, 2021
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday


The latest:

People 18 and older in Ontario will be able to book a COVID-19 vaccine booster through the provincial portal this morning, as long as it has been at least three months since getting the second shot.

The province announced Wednesday that it was expanding eligibility in an effort to bolster defences against the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Pharmacies were able to start offering the boosters to younger adults on Friday, but now Ontarians can make appointments through the province’s or a local public health unit’s website.

The change in booster availability comes after the province tightened up restrictions. As of Sunday, restaurants, retailers, gyms and other indoor settings in Ontario are only allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity. Indoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people, while outdoor gatherings can only have 25.

In Quebec, officials are tightening public health measures again as COVID-19 cases spike across the province.

Premier François Legault announced tougher measures last week to combat the Omicron variant as the province reported a jump in hospitalizations, with record-breaking cases for the province’s daily tally over the weekend.

The government backtracked on increasing the maximum of indoor gatherings to 20, maintaining the maximum at 10 people instead. Bars, restaurants, retail stores, places of worship and entertainment activities, meanwhile, are to operate at half capacity.

Canada’s two most-populous provinces are facing an uptick in cases. Ontario on Sunday reported 4,177 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths, while Quebec saw 3,846 new cases on Sunday and three additional deaths.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Businesses call for COVID-19 relief amid increased restrictions: 

Businesses call for COVID-19 relief amid increased restrictions

Business owners and advocates are calling for urgent financial support as rising COVID-19 cases across Canada lead to renewed restrictions right before the holidays, traditionally the busiest time of year in retail. 1:53

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia on Sunday reported 476 new COVID-19 cases — another single-day high. The province will report more detail on figures, including hospitalization data, later on Monday. 

New Brunswick health officials reported 108 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while Newfoundland and Labrador saw 61 new cases since Friday.

Health officials in Prince Edward Island were expected to provide updated information on Monday.

In the North, health officials in the Northwest Territories on Sunday reported the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in the territory. Updated figures for all three territories are expected later Monday.

In the Prairies, Saskatchewan on Sunday reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The province is also expanding access to boosters as of Monday, with everyone aged 18 and up allowed to book provided their second dose was at least three months ago.

Health officials in Manitoba and Alberta don’t provide updated figures on the weekend.

In British Columbia, health officials will provide updated figures covering the weekend later on Monday. The update will come as residents in the province see new restrictions imposed in the face of the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

The new COVID-19 restrictions range from audience capacities in large venues to the number of people able to attend indoor gatherings. Health officials say the restrictions, which also include the cancellation of all New Year’s Eve parties, are being implemented over fears of the Omicron variant overwhelming B.C. hospitals.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

Pedestrians, some wearing face coverings to combat the spread of COVID-19, walk through a light-covered archway near shops on the last Saturday for shopping before Christmas, in central London. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 274.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported death toll worldwide stood at more than 5.3 million, according to the case-tracking tool.

Britain refused to rule out curbs on gatherings on Monday, a day after the Netherlands imposed a fourth lockdown prompted by the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus and as other European countries considered putting a squeeze on Christmas.

Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday the government was watching the data closely. Any decision to limit how people can celebrate Christmas would come at a high political cost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose authority has been undermined by questions over whether he and his staff broke lockdown rules last year.

Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a shutdown on Saturday, ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from Sunday until at least Jan. 14.

WATCH | What masks are most effective against Omicron? 

What masks are most effective against Omicron?

The National’s Andrew Chang finds out what researchers have learned about cloth, surgical and N95-style masks and the protection they offer against the Omicron variant. 3:37

In Africahealth officials in South Africa on Sunday reported 15,465 new cases and three additional deaths in the country that first raised the alarm about the variant now known as Omicron. Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa is back at work after a period of self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test, local media reported.

In the Asia-Pacific region, a cluster of coronavirus infections linked to a U.S. military base in Japan has grown to at least 180, Japan’s government said on Monday, raising fears over the spread of the virus in the community.

In the Americas, Peru has detected its first cases of Omicron.

Meanwhile, in the United States, senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker said they both tested positive for COVID-19 and were experiencing mild symptoms.

In the Middle East, Iran has confirmed its first case of Omicron, while authorities urged Iranians to get their booster doses in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET


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