Manitoba reported its highest ever single day total of new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while neighbouring Ontario announced an extension of its ongoing stay-at-home order to try to shrink its third wave.
Further west, Albertans learned Thursday that if they are unable to wear a mask in public places for medical reasons, they’re going to have to get a letter from a medical professional to prove that, from now on.
Health officials in Manitoba reported 560 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths, as the third wave of the pandemic showed no sign of abating.
“The key challenge we face now, as our numbers have risen, is that we have to get everybody vaccinated and we have to follow the public health rules and shorten the third wave,” Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday, ahead of the latest data being released.
In Ontario, it was announced the province will extend a stay-at-home order — which was set to expire next Thursday — until at least June 2.
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The move means thousands of businesses and outdoor recreational facilities will remain closed, despite critics urging the reopening of the latter.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the stay-at-home order and strict public health measures need to stay in place to ensure the province has the most normal July and August possible.
The province’s top doctor has said he would like to see “well below” 1,000 daily cases before Ontario lifts the stay-at-home order.
“We want to open and stay open,” Dr. David Williams said. “We do not want a fourth wave at all.”
Ontario reported 2,759 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, with 31 more deaths from the virus.
Alberta reported 1,558 new cases and nine additional deaths. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the testing positivity rate remained above 10 per cent.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 3:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,310,268 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 76,070 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,809.
In Quebec, health officials reported 781 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.
Across the North, Nunavut reported 12 new cases Thursday. Premier Joe Savikataaq said on Twitter that there were 74 active cases in the territory, with all of them in Iqaluit.
The Northwest Territories reported one new case on Thursday.
Health officials in Yukon said an internet outage meant it would provide an update on its COVID-19 numbers Friday.
In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island on Thursday reported one new case of COVID-19 in a daycare worker, bringing the number of active cases on the island to seven. Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven new cases Thursday, while 16 new COVID-19 cases were reported in New Brunswick, and 110 new cases were reported in Nova Scotia.
Saskatchewan reported 223 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and five additional deaths.
British Columbia reported 587 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as well as five additional deaths.
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-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:55 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Thursday evening, more than 160.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.3. million.
In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.
The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. But the recommendations will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues.
The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds.
Also Thursday, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said the four most worrying coronavirus variants have been detected in virtually all countries and territories of the Americas, but although they are more transmissible there is no evidence they are more lethal.
The vaccines that are being administered in the region provide more protection against the variants, Jairo Mendez, a WHO infectious diseases expert said in a webinar by the Pan American Health Organization.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka’s government has banned travel throughout the country for three days in an effort to contain rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases.
India recorded more than 4,000 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday and extended the interval between doses of AstraZeneca vaccine amid dire shortages.
In Europe, Spain announced an increase in the number of COVID-19 vaccines available. The country’s goal is to vaccinate 33 million people by mid-August.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says Spain will receive 13 million doses from Pfizer next month. That allows authorities to ramp up their vaccination campaign to 2.7 million people a week from 1.7 million.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s concerned about the rise in the U.K. of the coronavirus variant first identified in India. A closely monitored study of coronavirus infections in England has found the variant is becoming more prevalent ahead of the next big easing of public health restrictions.
In Africa, Kenya’s health ministry on Wednesday said on Twitter that “925,509 persons have so far been vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease countrywide.”
In the Middle East, Iran’s reported COVID-19 case count stood at more than 2.7 million, with more than 75,900 deaths reported.
Egypt received its second shipment of vaccines from the international COVAX initiative on Thursday, with the health minister saying a shipment of 1.7 million AstraZeneca vaccines had arrived in Cairo.
The new shots arrive as the country encourages citizens to register for its vaccination campaign, expanding it beyond medical and tourism workers to the general population.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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