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

October 14, 2020
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday

The latest:

  • Manitoba hits new high in daily COVID-19 case counts.
  • New Brunswick declares outbreak at second special-care home.
  • 5 hand sanitizers added to Health Canada’s evolving recall list.
  • U.K. resists national lockdown despite study suggesting it could save lives.
  • Iran virus death toll hits record high, 3rd time in week.
  • Japanese study suggests use of humidifiers may help limit infections in winter.

While Ontario and Quebec have recently rolled out new restrictions in their hardest-hit regions to try to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases, some of Canada’s smaller provinces in the Prairie region and Atlantic Canada are also beginning to see an alarming uptick in numbers.

Manitoba reported its third record-breaking day in less than a week, with 124 new cases on Tuesday. It was also the province’s first triple-digit tally.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said most of the new cases — 95 of them — are in Winnipeg, which hit a test positivity rate of 4.4 per cent on Tuesday. Manitoba set a new record for the provincewide rate at 3.5 per cent.

WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor implores people not to go out while symptomatic:

As cases climb, the chief provincial public health officer says Manitobans must reduce their number of close contacts and not go out when symptomatic: ‘We just cannot succeed in this pandemic if people are out and about when they’re symptomatic.” 0:47

The test positivity rate is a rolling average of the proportion of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, and Roussin has said it’s a critical metric in the virus’s spread.

Roussin said another lockdown isn’t needed now since the health-care system is still keeping up with demand, but warned that climbing case counts and growing community transmission have strained contact tracing resources.

Meanwhile, recent outbreaks in New Brunswick are causing concern about what it could mean for the Atlantic bubble.

New Brunswick reported six new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and declared an outbreak at Manoir de la Sagesse, a special-care home in Campbellton. This follows an outbreak at another special-care home in Moncton.

The six new cases reported on Tuesday bring the total of active cases in the province to 82, higher than at any other time during the pandemic. Five of those people are in hospital, with one in intensive care.

(CBC News)

The recent developments have prompted the Chief Public Health Office in P.E.I. to advise Islanders to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the Moncton region.

The rising case count in their neighbouring province has some P.E.I. businesses worried. Maritime Bus owner Mike Cassidy said about half of his company’s daily travel is between provinces, and if the new cases lead to closing the Atlantic bubble, it could mean an 80 per cent decline in revenue.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 9:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 186,881 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 157,486 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,654.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canadians don’t have to cancel Halloween this year, as long as children and parents take special pandemic precautions.

WATCH | Respirologist’s tips on keeping safe during Halloween:

Consider using candy chutes or goodie bags this year for Halloween, and wear a mask to keep safe during trick-or-treating, says respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta. 3:51

At a briefing in Ottawa Tuesday, Tam advised parents and kids to maintain physical distancing while trick-or-treating outside, to stick to pre-packaged treats and to have hand sanitizer readily available. She also said that a creative use of “different fabrics” can turn a day-to-day face mask into part of a costume.

Tam stressed that parents and children should follow guidelines set by local health authorities, as some local COVID-19 caseloads are far larger than others.

Five more hand sanitizers were added to Health Canada’s evolving recall list on Tuesday, which now includes more than 100 products that may pose health risks. (See the list here.)

The products were recalled for containing technical-grade ethanol without authorization, containing methanol or missing risk statements. 

The COVID-19 pandemic created high demand for hand sanitizers. Health Canada said in June that it permitted the temporary use of technical grade ethanol — which contains more impurities than pharmaceutical or food-grade ethanol — if manufacturers chose an authorized supplier and obtained Health Canada’s permission first.

WATCH | How to avoid accidentally poisoning yourself during COVID-19 cleaning:

More people are poisoning themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic by mixing the wrong combination of chemicals or accidentally ingesting them. 1:54

In the world of sports, Canada Soccer has cancelled a planned women’s national team camp this month in England on the advice of medical experts.

The Canadian women, ranked eighth in the world, were to have played No. 6 England in their first get-together since a March tournament in France just prior to the lockdown. While roster invitations were sent out, the trip has now been called off.

“We listened to our federal public health officials and authorities, who offered us guidance,” said Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli. “And in the end, they were instructing us not to travel. We listened to them.”  

What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 38.2 million. More than one million people have died, while more than 26.5 million have recovered.

The British government on Wednesday resisted a short lockdown for all of England, despite calls from the opposition to shut the country down for two weeks as a “circuit breaker,” a step that a new scientific study said could save thousands of lives.

With cases rapidly rising, the British government opted this week for a three-tiered system of local measures. The Liverpool area became the first part of the country in the highest category, requiring bars, gyms and other businesses to shut, perhaps for months.

People walk past a shop window on Oxford Street in London on Tuesday. The British government is resisting calls for a national lockdown. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

On Wednesday, British-ruled Northern Ireland, which is outside the tier system, announced the toughest U.K. coronavirus measures since the pre-summer peak, shutting restaurants and suspending schools.

The British government’s critics say a short, sharp countrywide lockdown could be more effective than local measures, and would spread the economic burden more fairly.

According to a study from some of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s scientific advisers, if daily deaths reach 200 by Oct. 24, as many as 80,000 more people in Britain could die by the end of the year. A two-week lockdown could save half of them. Even in less extreme scenarios, it could save thousands of lives.

Poland reported a record 6,526 new coronavirus infections and 116 deaths on Wednesday and doctors warned the health-care system was becoming overloaded. The country of 38 million has now recorded 141,804 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,217 deaths.

“I don’t have any good information. We are on the brink of disaster,” immunologist Pawel Grzesiowski told private radio station RMF. He said Poland should be doing more testing, closing schools and supporting doctors in their fight against the pandemic.

For the third time in a week, Iran has seen its highest single-day record for new deaths and infections from the coronavirus.

Motorists wear face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 in Tehran. Iran reported 279 new deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total to more than 29,300. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

A Health Ministry spokeswoman on Wednesday said 279 people have died in the past day, in addition to 4,830 new patients.

Iran also announced a travel ban to and from five major cities, including the capital of Tehran and the holy city of Mashhad. The ban is meant to prevent the virus’s spread ahead of an important religious holiday.

Iran is struggling with the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 513,000 confirmed cases. It has seen over 29,300 deaths and 414,800 recoveries.

In Japan, a supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

China says it has carried out more than 4.2 million tests in the eastern port city of Qingdao, with no new cases of coronavirus found among the almost two million sets of results received.

The city has reported a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

Residents line up for COVID-19 testing in Qingdao, a city in China’s eastern Shandong province, on Tuesday. (Li Ziheng/Xinhua/The Associated Press)

China on Wednesday reported 27 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 new cases of local transmission and 14 cases brought from outside the country.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 85,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Mozambique’s health minister says he has tested positive for COVID-19, in a routine test conducted ahead of a planned trip abroad.

Armindo Tiago, who has led the country’s response to the pandemic. said Tuesday that he has no symptoms. The Ministry of Health said Tiago is isolating at his home in the capital, Maputo.

The disease has spread relatively slowly in Mozambique, a country of 30 million, despite it never having a lockdown as neighbouring countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe did. Schools have been closed since April but are now gradually reopening.

The total number of cases officially diagnosed in Mozambique passed 10,000 on Sunday, while 73 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

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