Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is now required to access big-box and other large-scale retail stores across Quebec, and the province announced it plans to ramp up efforts to reach those who are not yet vaccinated.
Premier François Legault previously announced that Quebecers will have to show their vaccination passport starting today if they wish to enter stores with floor surfaces of 1,500 square metres or more.
Legault continues to focus measures on unvaccinated residents in an effort to curb COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which soared in recent weeks but have declined for the past four days.
The province’s junior health minister, Lionel Carmant, said Monday there are about 540,000 eligible Quebecers who have not received any vaccine. Carmant said while some people are philosophically opposed to the vaccine, others would be willing to get their shots if the process was explained to them and access was easier.
Pop-up vaccine clinics will begin next week and the province hopes to make inroads by the end of March.
Proof-of-vaccination requirements do not apply to stores that primarily sell pharmacy or grocery products.
Quebec expanded its vaccination passport system last week to cannabis and liquor stores.
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The province’s COVID-19 update posted Monday showed 3,299 hospitalizations — an increase of 16 from a day earlier. The number of people in intensive care units stood at 263 — down by 10 from a day earlier.
Health officials in Quebec also reported 52 additional deaths and 2,807 additional lab-confirmed cases. Because of limits on PCR testing, officials in the province have cautioned that the number of new cases is likely significantly higher.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 3:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.
For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.
You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.
In Central Canada, Ontario on Monday reported 3,861 hospitalizations, an increase of 64 from the previous day. According to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard, there were 615 people in the province’s intensive care units, up by 11 from a day earlier.
The province also reported 37 additional deaths and 4,790 lab-confirmed cases.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick’s education minister outlined the measures students will follow as they go back to in-person learning Jan. 31.
Dominic Cardy said during a briefing that there will be a return to universal indoor masking, except when individuals are eating or drinking, outdoor masking for high school students, and mandatory vaccination for extra-curricular activities. In addition, he said all staff will be offered N95 masks and they are recommending tightly fitted masks for students.
There are 12 people in intensive care in the province and another 119 in hospital, for a total of 131 people hospitalized with COVID-19. There have been 381 newly lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
As of Monday, Prince Edward Island has nine people in hospital with COVID-19, including two in the ICU. There have been 157 newly confirmed cases and two more deaths from the virus. The province announced Monday that students at UPEI will not return to in-person classes for at least another month.
Nova Scotia on Monday said there were 92 people in hospital with COVID-19. Fourteen people are in intensive care units. The province also reported an additional 362 lab-confirmed cases and five additional deaths.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are two more people in hospital with COVID-19 for a total of 21 Monday, a new high, according to health officials. Five are in the ICU. The province, which is set to send students back to classrooms later this week, also reported 349 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In the Prairie provinces, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Monday that the province expects to see more hospitalizations, including from incidental cases, as the highly infectious Omicron variant spreads.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab has in recent weeks urged people not to gather. But the province does not have gathering or capacity reductions in place and there was no indication from the premier Monday that further restrictions are expected.
“What we are asking Saskatchewan people — and what I would put forward the vast majority of Saskatchewan people are doing — is they are slowing down their contacts, they are reducing their contacts,” Moe said at a briefing on Monday.
“But when they feel that it is necessary, they are taking the precautions, using the tools that we have in place, so that they are able to see family members, for example, at a birthday or whatever that … occasion might be.”
In Saskatchewan, 222 people were in hospital Monday, an increase of 10 from a day earlier. Of those, 29 patients were in intensive care units across the province. Health officials also reported 909 additional lab-confirmed cases and three more deaths.
Manitoba on Monday reported there are 716 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 49 in the ICU. There have been 536 new cases of the virus confirmed along with 23 additional deaths since Friday.
Alberta reported 1,304 people in the hospital on Monday with COVID-19, an increase of 113 from Friday’s update. There are 108 people in intensive care.
The province released updated COVID-19 from the previous three days late Monday.
There have now been 3,470 deaths since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 41 from Friday’s update.
Alberta reported a combined 8,533 new COVID-19 cases Monday.
Across the North, Nunavut on Monday reported 29 additional cases of COVID-19. Health officials in Yukon reported 110 new cases of COVID-19, but no one in hospital with the virus.
The Northwest Territories reported 282 new cases on Monday, as well as one additional death. There are currently no patients with COVID-19 in hospital.
British Columbia health officials on Monday reported 4,997 new cases of COVID-19 covering the three-day period since Friday. There were 24 additional deaths over the same period. There are currently 987 COVID-positive individuals in hospital, including 129 in the ICU.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:40 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Monday evening, more than 354.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll was approaching 5.6 million.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is warning that conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge, saying it’s dangerous to assume Omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame.” Tedros also said the acute phase of the pandemic could end this year — if some key targets are met, including WHO’s target to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year.
“It’s true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases” to help prepare for future pandemics, he said. “But learning to live with COVID cannot mean that we give this virus a free ride. It cannot mean that we accept almost 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.”
In the Asia-Pacific region, COVID-related deaths surged in Australia, and authorities warned numbers could rise further when schools return from holidays next week.
Beijing’s city government introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.
India reported over 300,000 new COVID-19 infections for the fourth straight day, even though the caseload over the last 24 hours was slightly lower than a day before, data released by the government on Sunday showed.
In Europe, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Britain will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test, and the British government has also encouraged people to return to their workplaces. Meanwhile, Germany extended its current pandemic measures.
Norway will end its system of mandatory quarantines for non-vaccinated travellers and close contacts of infected persons, replacing it instead with a daily test regime.
Russia on Monday reported a new record number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours as the Omicron variant of the virus spread across the country, the government coronavirus task force said. Daily new cases jumped to 65,109, from 63,205 a day earlier. The task force also reported 655 deaths.
In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Sunday reported 1,931 new cases of COVID-19 and 114 additional deaths.
Due to the ongoing audit exercise by the National Department of Health (NDoH), there may be a backlog of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> mortality cases reported. Today, the NDoH reports 114 deaths and of these, 17 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 94 177 to dat
In the Middle East, Israel’s health minister said he did not think Israel will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to most people after the government made it available to people over 60 and other high-risk groups.
Health officials in Iran on Monday said 21 people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The country also reported 7,691 additional cases.
In the Americas, a New York judge struck down the state’s mask mandate on Monday, ruling that it was unconstitutional and a violation of state law, according to the court decision.
Judge Thomas Rademaker, of New York State Supreme Court on Long Island, wrote in his decision — which apparently takes effect immediately — that the state legislature last year curbed any governor’s ability to issue decrees, such as a mask mandate, amid a declared state of emergency.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”
And in Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who recently recovered from his second COVID-19 infection, reassured Mexicans he was in good health following an overnight hospital stay.
-From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 8:40 p.m. ET
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