- Ontario and Quebec report largest daily increases in COVID-19 cases in six weeks.
- Quebec City police not pressing charges after outbreak traced to karaoke night.
- Church events in Toronto, Vaughan, Ont., linked to outbreak of cases.
- Freedom Day protesters denounce lockdown measures in Melbourne.
- India’s number of coronavirus cases passes 4 million.
- WHO not expecting widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until mid-2021.
As Canadians settle into the last long weekend of the summer and many prepare for the start of school, the country’s two most populous provinces are reporting their highest daily increases in cases of COVID-19 since late July.
Ontario reported 169 new confirmed cases on Saturday, while there were 175 new cases in Quebec and two deaths tied to the respiratory infection.
In Ontario, the largest counts for the day were in Peel Region with 46, Toronto with 42, Ottawa with 30 and 19 in York Region, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Most schools in Ontario will open for students on Tuesday, but schools in Quebec have been open for more than a week, and 46 out of 3,100 schools in the province have at least one case of COVID-19 since then, according to government figures released Friday.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the number of cases are in line with what was expected and that in most of the 46 cases, the staff or student was infected outside of school.
He would not specify how many cases there were in each school but said none had turned into outbreaks, with widespread transmission within a school.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 63,292 confirmed cases in Quebec, and 5,769 people infected have died.
Ontario has now seen 43,003 cumulative confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began in late January ,and 2,811 people have died.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 131,468 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 116,118 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 9,183.
Quebec City police have closed an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a karaoke night at a local bar and have decided not to press charges.
Investigators met with several dozen Bar Kirouac patrons and the establishment’s owner to remind them of public health rules.
At least two Bar Kirouac patrons who underwent COVID-19 screening decided to go out on the town as they awaited their results, according to multiple reports. In both cases, the tests came back positive.
WATCH | Advice on indoor fall gatherings:
Police confirmed late Friday they are investigating a possible outbreak at another Quebec City watering hole, La Souche.
Four positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded among bar patrons, and public health authorities are urging anyone who has visited the establishment since Aug. 23 to get screened for the illness.
Public health units in Toronto and York Region are warning of a COVID-19 outbreak linked to two church events held in the Greater Toronto Area last month.
They say the Miracle Arena for All Nations events took place on Aug. 16 at the church’s two locations — 20 Milvan Dr. in Toronto and 10800 Weston Rd. in Vaughan.
A total of 15 people from across the GTA have since tested positive for the coronavirus.
Anyone who attended these gatherings, or other events related to the church, is advised to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms until Sept. 18, according to a news release issued by the two public health units on Friday evening.
Peel Region on Friday recorded its highest daily jump in COVID-19 cases since June 4, with 72 more cases. That compares with 41 new cases in nearby Toronto on the same day.
WATCH | Ontario’s Peel Region sees sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases:
The region’s city of Brampton, northwest of Toronto, represents just three per cent of the population of Ontario but accounted for nearly half the 148 new confirmed cases in the province on Friday.
“I’m really concerned about what’s happening in Brampton,” Premier Doug Ford said in response, adding that he “won’t hesitate” to roll back reopening measures.
British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 121 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Friday and urged people to maintain a balance between fun and caution this long weekend.
There have been a total of 6,162 cases of COVID-19 and 211 deaths across B.C. since the beginning of the pandemic.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 26.6 million. More than 875,000 people have died while 17.7 million have recovered.
India’s total number of coronavirus cases crossed four million on Saturday. The country is leading the world in new infections and closing in on Brazil’s total, which is the second-highest in the world.
The 86,432 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total to 4,023,179. Brazil has confirmed 4,091,801 infections, while the U.S. has 6,202,329 people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
India’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 1,089 deaths for a total of 69,561.
Initially, the virus ravaged India’s sprawling and often densely populated cities. It has since stretched to almost every state in the country, spreading through villages and smaller cities where access to health care is crippled.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, which has a limited health-care system, has recorded 253,175 cases and 3,762 deaths.
In rural Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, with 863,062 cases and 25,964 deaths, doctors said preventative measures such as wearing masks had now largely been abandoned.
“There is a behavioural fatigue now setting in,” said Dr. S.P. Kalantri, the director of a hospital in the village of Sevagram.
He said the past few weeks had driven home the point that the virus had moved from India’s cities to its villages.
“The worst is yet to come,” Kalantri said. “There is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
The new tally comes a day after the World Health Organization said it’s not expecting widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year.
WATCH | Infectious disease specialist cautions against rushing vaccine development:
There are at least 176 potential vaccines at various stages of research around the world, but just eight of them are in the final stage of human clinical trials, or Phase 3. Dr. Margaret Harris of the WHO said this part of the process can’t be rushed.
All data from trials must be shared and compared, she said.
“This Phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is, and we also need to see how safe it is,” she said.
In Australia, protesters against a COVID-19 lockdown defied police in the country’s hot spot on Saturday, prompting 15 arrests, even as the state of Victoria continued its gradual improvement in stemming new cases due to the nearly five weeks of restrictions.
About 200 protesters in the state capital Melbourne rallied with chants of “freedom” and “human rights matter,” surrounded by police.
One of the arrests was for assaulting police, while others were arrested or fined for breaching health restrictions, Victoria police said in a statement.
“It is not safe, it is not smart, it is not lawful. In fact, it is absolutely selfish for people to be out there protesting,” state Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.
Victoria reported 76 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths on Saturday. Andrews is due to outline plans on Sunday for easing Melbourne’s Stage 4 restrictions, which shut large parts of the economy, required everyone to stay home except for essential business and imposed a nighttime curfew.
Victoria’s new cases were below 100 most days this week, down from a peak of 725 new infections on Aug. 5, but they remain higher than health officials had hoped five weeks into a six-week lockdown.
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The number of people infected with the coronavirus has continued to surge in the Czech Republic.
The country’s Health Ministry says the daily increase reached a record of 798 new confirmed cases on Friday.
The announcement comes after the country registered more than 600 cases the previous two days, also records at the time.
Health authorities have already imposed new restrictive measures in the Czech capital to deal with the spike. Starting on Wednesday, it is mandatory again to wear face masks in stores and shopping malls. At the same time, bars, restaurants and nightclubs have to be closed from midnight to 6 a.m.
The Czech Republic has had 27,249 total cases, including 429 deaths.
In the United States, President Donald Trump is urging Americans to “remain vigilant” about the coronavirus over the Labour Day weekend.
Trump said at a White House briefing Friday that “we need everybody to be careful” and to “apply common sense” in their interactions with one another.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said this week that several Midwestern states that have seen jumps in coronavirus cases should be especially vigilant during the holiday weekend. They are North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
Past increases in cases of COVID-19 have followed the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.
Trump is eager to put the pandemic in the past, but he told Americans: “Let’s just try to get through this one weekend.”