Alberta to decide whether to further ease public health restrictions

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A cabinet committee of Alberta's United Conservative government is expected to meet Monday to decide whether to further ease public health restrictions.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's cabinet committee on COVID-19 is set to meet Monday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Sunday that there were 282 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 47 in intensive care units.(CBC)

A cabinet committee of Alberta's United Conservative government is expected to meet Monday to decide whether to further ease public health restrictions.

Premier Jason Kenney said last week that the key metric is the hospitalization rate, which has been well under 300 for three weeks, but the number of Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 has been climbing.

On Sunday, officials reported there were 282 people in hospital.

The 300 figure was announced in January as the benchmark needed before Alberta could move to the third phase of its reopening plan, which includes opening entertainment venues such as movie theatres and casinos, and also allows adult team sports.

Here is a summary of today’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19AB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19AB</a> numbers: over the last 24 hours we have identified 555 new cases, which includes an additional 184 variant of concern cases. We have completed an additional 11,405 tests, giving a positivity rate of 4.8%. (1/3)

&mdash;@CMOH_Alberta

The number of new COVID-19 cases per day in Alberta has also climbed to more than 500 each day since the middle of last week.

Currently, retailers, restaurants, youth sports, and in-person worship services are open with capacity restrictions, but indoor gatherings remain banned and outdoor get-togethers are capped at 10 people.

According to a federal website that tracks variant-of-concern cases, as of Sunday evening Alberta had 1,581 reported cases of the B117 variant — the most of any province. The updated figures showed more than 5,150 reported cases of variants of concern across Canada, including:

  • 4,807 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
  • 243 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
  • 104 cases of the P1 variant first reported in travellers from Brazil.

What's happening across Canada

As of early Monday morning, Canada had reported 933,790 cases of COVID-19, with 35,009 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,676.

In Atlantic Canada, health officials reported a total of seven cases of COVID-19 on Sunday — six in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick.

Quebec health officials reported 648 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and five additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 501, with 102 COVID-19 patients reported to be in intensive care units.

In Ontario, people aged 75 and older can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. The province reported 1,791 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 18 additional deaths on Sunday. According to a provincial dashboard, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital stood at 760, with 305 in intensive care.

Across the North, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq tweeted on Saturday that the territory had no active cases.

‼️Nunavut is reporting ZERO active cases of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> today! <br><br>Way to go Arviarmiut! Your strength and hard work has paid off. Keep it up. I’m so proud of my home community!‼️ <a href="https://t.co/gjzy5JZP9N">pic.twitter.com/gjzy5JZP9N</a>

&mdash;@JSavikataaq

Across the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 90 new cases and seven additional deaths on Sunday, while Saskatchewan reported 178 new cases and one additional death.

British Columbia is slated to provide updated figures later Monday that cover the weekend.


What's happening around the world

People wait to receive the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines against COVID-19 at a hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday.(Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 123.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine performed better than expected in a major late-stage trial potentially paving the way for its emergency authorization in the United States and bolstering confidence in the shot after numerous setbacks.

In Europe, Germany is set to extend a lockdown to contain the pandemic into its fifth month, according to a draft proposal ahead of Monday's video conference of regional and national leaders, after infection rates exceeded the level at which authorities say hospitals will be overstretched.

Bells tolled across the Czech Republic at noon Monday to honour those who have died of COVID-19 in one of the hardest-hit European Union countries.

In the Americas, officials in Miami Beach voted on Sunday to extend an 8 p.m. curfew and emergency powers for up to three weeks to help control unruly and mostly maskless crowds that have converged on the party destination during spring break.

Cuba announced on Sunday it would vaccinate 150,000 front-line workers as part of the final phase of a clinical trial of the country's leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Brazil's government has been in talks since March 13 about potentially importing excess COVID-19 vaccines from the United States, Reuters reported.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India reported its most COVID-19 cases and deaths in months on the first anniversary of the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce a date for quarantine-free travel with Australia within two weeks, despite mounting pressure from businesses to open borders with neighbouring countries.

Health-care workers received the first shots in Taiwan's COVID-19 vaccination drive Monday, beginning a campaign that won't use supplies from China amid uneven distribution of the vaccines globally. Taiwan has on hand 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it is distributing to health-care workers across 57 hospitals.

Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang launched the drive by receiving the first shot at National Taiwan University Hospital in the capital Taipei. "After 30 minutes of rest, there's no signs of any discomfort," he said. The rest period is for monitoring recipients for any adverse reactions.

Papua New Guinea on Monday stepped up pandemic restrictions, ordering pubs, clubs and gaming sites to close from Wednesday, after reporting another jump in COVID-19 cases. The new curbs came in addition to tighter internal border controls, bans on large gatherings, school closures and mask-wearing mandates imposed last week as infections spiked.

Health officials in Papua New Guinea on Monday reported 242 new cases as of Saturday, bringing total confirmed cases in the South Pacific nation to 3,359. The death toll remained at 36. Police Commissioner David Manning, who is running the country's pandemic response, said part of the country's challenge was that many of the cases were asymptomatic.

In Africa, South Africa has concluded the sale of AstraZeneca AZN.L COVID-19 vaccines it had acquired but did not use to other African Union (AU) member states, the health ministry said on Sunday.

In the Middle East, Iran's total reported COVID-19 case numbers has surpassed 1.8 million, with nearly 61,800 reported deaths.

With files from CBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters

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