More than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths recorded in U.S. yesterday, a record

The latest:

  • B.C. reports 723 new COVID-19 cases, record-high 28 more deaths.
  • U.S. advisory panel endorses Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, FDA approval expected to follow.
  • Alberta reports 1,566 new cases, 13 more deaths as active cases dip slightly.
  • Ontario prepares for first vaccines next week.
  • Saskatchewan’s 7-day average hits record-high 283.
  • Manitoba reports 293 new cases, 13 more deaths, including 9 linked to outbreaks at care homes.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

Ontario’s control over the pandemic remains “precarious” at the moment, health officials said Thursday as they released updated COVID-19 projections and the province reported a record-high 1,983 new cases.

More than 1,000 of those are in hard-hit Toronto and Peel Region, which moved into a lockdown level of restrictions more than two weeks ago.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that the province had completed more than 61,800 tests, also a single-day high for the province.

Ontario is reporting 1,983 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> and over 61,800 tests completed. Locally, there are 515 new cases in Peel, 496 in Toronto and 208 in York Region. There are 1,804 more resolved cases.<br> <br>Today’s numbers will be available at 10:30 a.m. at <a href=”https://t.co/ypmgZbVRvn”>https://t.co/ypmgZbVRvn</a>.

&mdash;@celliottability

The newly released provincial figures show Ontario’s current lockdown measures have not had nearly as much of an impact on people’s mobility — and therefore likely their contacts — as it did during the first wave of the pandemic.

According to the latest provincial modelling, relaxation of current public health interventions would likely lead to even higher case growth.

“There is a lot of people on the move. We have to get that down and limit that somehow,” said Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

Williams said he will be recommending some parts of the province move up in Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework, with announcements coming Friday.

The province also reported 35 additional deaths on Thursday. Hospitalizations increased yet again, with 829 COVID-19 patients in hospital. Of those, 228 were in intensive care units, according to a provincial health dashboard.

In positive news, the province confirmed it will administer its first COVID-19 vaccines next Tuesday at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa.

The first vaccines will go to health-care workers at long-term care homes and other high-risk places, Premier Doug Ford said in a news release, with more details to come Friday.

WATCH | Health officials look to allay vaccine concerns:

Health officials hope to reassure those reluctant to get COVID-19 vaccine

The National

1 day agoVideo

2:05

While doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are still months away for most Canadians, health officials are already working on ways to allay concerns some people have about how quickly vaccines were developed. The Public Health Agency of Canada acknowledges there’s a ‘sizeable minority’ with reservations, but says it’s committed to making sure Canadians know they will be safe.2:05

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 442,069, with 73,225 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,109.

Quebec on Thursday reported 1,842 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 additional deaths, bringing the death toll in the province to 7,382.

Hospitalizations in the province increased to 848, with 113 in intensive care, according to figures released by the province.

The new cases included 648 in Montreal, a new daily record for the region. The region’s public health director said she is particularly worried about the situation in private seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities and asked Montrealers to cut down on their contacts.

WATCH | Quebec postpones surgeries amid COVID-19 2nd wave:

Quebec postpones surgeries amid COVID-19 2nd wave

The National

1 day agoVideo

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Quebec has been forced to postpone surgeries again to make room for the rising wave of COVID-19 patients. With a lingering backlog from the first wave, doctors fear delaying even non-essential procedures comes with real risks.1:29

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while New Brunswick reported four new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case.

There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.

Manitoba health officials reported 293 new COVID-19 cases and 13 more deaths on Thursday. The most recent deaths include nine linked to outbreaks at care homes.

Across the province, there are now 298 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 43 in intensive care.

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 324 new cases and four deaths on Thursday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is now 283, a record high for the province.

There are now 138 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the province, 31 of whom are in intensive care, another record high.

Alberta reported 1,566 new cases and another 13 deaths on Thursday. There were 682 people being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, including 124 in intensive care.

The province imposed tough new restrictions earlier this week, including a mask mandate and a ban on social gatherings, in a bid to get control on rising case numbers.

“Our health system is in trouble and we need to work together to save it,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference Thursday. “Ultimately it’s in the hands of Albertans to follow all of the guidance. If all of these measures, these legally-mandated measures, are followed, then the numbers will, I believe, come down.”

WATCH | Can you choose which COVID-19 vaccine to get?

COVID-19: Can you choose which vaccine to get?

The National

1 day agoVideo

4:21

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Susy Hota answers viewer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine including whether people will be able to choose which vaccine they get and whether they can be mixed and matched.4:21

In British Columbia, health officials reported 723 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 28 more deaths — the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period since the start of the pandemic.

There are currently 346 people in hospital due to the illness, with 83 in intensive care.

The province has sent a rapid-response team of paramedics to Fort St. James, B.C., where at least 60 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community of around 1,500.

In the North, Nunavutreported no new cases on Thursday. After six recoveries, the number of active cases in the territory now stands at 42, all of them in the small community of Arviat on the western shore of Hudson Bay.

There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories. But the government of N.W.T. said it has found COVID-19 in wastewater in Yellowknife.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said this means there is likely an undetected case of COVID-19 in the capital. The virus was detected through a wastewater monitoring program, which analyzed samples taken between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.

As a result, the government asked anyone self-isolating in Yellowknife since Nov. 30 to get a COVID-19 test, even if they don’t have symptoms. Essential workers who have been in Yellowknife since Nov. 30 should also get a test.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

As of Thursday evening, more than 69.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 44.6 million of those cases considered resolved or recovered, according to Johns Hopkins. The global death toll stood at more than 1.5 million.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday pledged an additional $250 million US to support the development of low-cost and easier to deliver treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.

The Gates Foundation’s latest contribution, its largest to date, comes on top of the $70 million in funding that it added in November. This brings its total commitments to the global pandemic response to $1.75 billion, the foundation said. The contribution will also support the delivery of tests and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

WATCH | U.S. dry ice maker gears up for COVID-19 vaccine arrival:

U.S. dry ice maker gears up for COVID-19 vaccine arrival

World

19 hours agoVideo

1:16

The CBC’s Susan Ormiston visits Roberts Oxygen, a U.S. company that specializes in products like dry ice, as the country prepares to receive coronavirus vaccines that need special handling. 1:16

In the Americas, a U.S. government advisory panel has endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, in a major step toward an epic vaccination campaign that could finally conquer an outbreak that has killed more than 291,000 Americans.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow the recommendation issued Thursday by its expert advisers, with a final decision expected within days. The advisory group, in a 17-4 vote with one abstention, concluded that the shot appears safe and effective against the coronavirus in people 16 and older.

The FDA plans to hold a similar hearing next week for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Meanwhile, the United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp. in the United States plan to deliver millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines before holiday gifts — giving them VIP handling that includes GPS tracking, special labels and first-loaded status on planes and trucks.

The largest U.S. package delivery companies are partners in the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program and each has specialized capabilities to handle fragile medical products — including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that requires shipment at sub-Arctic temperatures.

The COVID-19 daily death toll surpassed 3,000 in the U.S. on Wednesday.

Test specialist Lester Gopar works at a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles on Dec. 9. Most of California entered a new lockdown this week in an effort to curb spiralling coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.(Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa decided on Thursday to allow temporary emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines and set rules for companies to apply for the option that did not exist in the country now facing the world’s third worst coronavirus outbreak.

The decision will potentially allow emergency use of vaccines that are being tested in Brazil by AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen and China’s Sinovac Biotech.

South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says the country is seeing a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases. The country, the hardest hit in Africa, recorded 6,700 new cases on Wednesday, the country’s highest number since August.

Mkhize warned that South Africa is in a second wave that could overwhelm hospital capacities in some regions.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said South Africa’s spike in infections highlights that a second surge in cases is beginning on the continent of 1.3 billion people.

He urged the United Nations to summon a special session to discuss the ethical, fair distribution of vaccines — calling it a “moral issue” — to avoid “this North-South distrust in respect to vaccines, which is a common good.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the governor of South Korea’s most populous province called for mass testing for coronavirus.

An employee disinfects subway train handles as a precaution against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday.(Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

South Korean officials were scrambling to build hospital beds in shipping containers to ease strains on medical facilities stretched by the latest coronavirus wave.

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus infections in Japan’s capital topped 600 in a day for the first time. Experts on Tokyo’s virus task force said the surge in infections has placed an added burden on hospitals, making it difficult for many of them to carry out treatment for ordinary patients.

Tokyo reported 602 new cases Thursday, while the daily tally for the entire nation was 2,810. Japan has reported 168,573 infections since the pandemic began, with 2,465 deaths.

In Europe, Italy reported 887 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, a steep rise from 499 the day before, the Health Ministry said. The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 62,626 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.

England’s COVID test and trace system is making a £500 pound (roughly $845 Cdn) support payment available for people who self-isolate after receiving a notification via its app, it said on Thursday.

The money was already available for people told to self-isolate by contact tracers via phone, email or test message, but not previously through the app due to its anonymous nature. Any individual who receives a self-isolation alert in the app is now able to register their details to receive the payment, the service said.

WATCH | U.K. warns those with severe allergies to avoid COVID-19 vaccine for now:

U.K. warns those with severe allergies should avoid COVID-19 vaccine for now

The National

1 day agoVideo

3:23

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine caused an allergic reaction in two health-care workers in the U.K. prompting warnings from health officials there for people with severe allergies to hold off taking the vaccine.3:23

Germany has reported its highest one-day total of new coronavirus cases, while the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 has climbed above 20,000.

The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said Thursday that 23,679 new cases were confirmed over the previous 24 hours. That’s just above the previous record of 23,648 from Nov. 20.

A partial shutdown that started Nov. 2 has succeeded in keeping the surge from picking up speed, but the number of daily new cases has remained around the same high level in recent weeks rather than falling. Momentum is building for a harder lockdown over Christmas and New Year’s, and some regions already are introducing new restrictions.

That’s partly because deaths, which have been relatively low in Germany compared with several other European countries, have increased markedly. Another 440 deaths were reported on Thursday, following a single-day record of 590 on Wednesday. That brought the total so far to 20,372. Germany has reported some 1.24 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

In the Middle East, Egypt has received its first shipment of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, which was tested in the United Arab Emirates and is said to be 86 per cent effective.

The shipment by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm landed at Cairo’s international airport from the U.A.E. on Thursday. Cairo and Abu Dhabi are close allies.

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