Coronavirus variants now make up the majority of Canada’s new COVID-19 cases, the country’s chief public health officer said on Sunday, adding that the variant first identified in the U.K. is especially prevalent.
“Variants of concern (VOCs) represent a majority of cases in Canada, with the B117 variant now reported in all provinces & territories and accounting for over 95 per cent of VOCs sequenced to date,” Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter.
Tam reiterated that variants are more contagious and are associated with more severe outcomes, and some — like the P1 variant first identified in Brazil and the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa — are more resistant to vaccines.
The B117 has become the dominant strain in some provinces, with Manitoba saying last week it will stop notifying residents if they’ve contracted the variant as it now makes up the vast majority of cases.
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What’s happening across Canada
As of 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Canada had reported 1,232,216 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 83,156 considered active. A CBC tally of deaths stood at 24,293.
Manitoba reported 281 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Sunday.
Ontario registered 3,732 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths on Sunday. The province has 1,961 people in hospital due to the illness, with 895 patients in ICUs, down from the record 900 in intensive care on Saturday.
On Monday morning, the province will be expanding vaccine eligibility to allow those 18 years of age and older who live in one of the 114 hot-spot communities to book their vaccine appointments through Ontario’s online portal.
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Quebec confirmed 1,006 new cases and nine more deaths on Sunday, while hospitalizations declined for the fifth straight day, with the province reporting 574 patients seeking treatment for COVID-19.
New Brunswick saw its 37th virus-related death and six new cases on Sunday. Officials say the person was in their 80s and resided at Pavillon Beau-Lieu, a special care home in Grand Falls.
Nova Scotia reported 133 new cases, down slightly from Saturday’s record of 148. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, had warned on Friday that higher numbers were expected over the next few days as the province works through a backlog of tens of thousands of unprocessed COVID-19 tests.
Meanwhile, police in Halifax issued 17 tickets to people breaking public health rules after responding to three different noise complaints overnight. Halifax police have now issued 27 tickets over the weekend after giving out tickets to 10 people attending a house party on Parker Street in Halifax early Saturday. The province recently increased fines to $2,000 for breaking public health orders in response to a surge in cases.
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Newfoundland and Labrador logged seven new cases on Sunday, with a cargo ship anchored in Conception Bay also reporting 11 new confirmed cases among crew members.
The Northwest Territories declared its first school outbreak and stopped in-person learning for two weeks after a person connected to N.J. Macpherson School in Yellowknife tested positive.
In Nunavut, active cases rose to 80 after the territory tallied 11 new infections. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson confirmed Friday, for the first time since the outbreak began, that there was evidence of community transmission.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 152.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.1 million.
In Europe, about 250 nightclub patrons wearing mandatory face masks gathered on Saturday night in Girona, in Spain’s northern region of Catalonia, as part of a project to revive the hospitality sector.
Under the scheme, people can obtain a digital pass, valid for 36 hours, allowing them to go to a concert or dine out at five restaurants in the city.
For this, they had to download an app to their cellphones, undergo an antigen COVID-19 test and show a negative PCR test or proof that they had already had the coronavirus.
A trial concert was held in Barcelona in March where 5,000 people took rapid COVID-19 tests and crammed into a venue without social distancing. Organizers earlier this month said the gathering did not drive up infections.
In Portugal, the country’s 1,200-kilometre-long land border with Spain reopened on Saturday after more than three months of restrictions and border checks.
In Belgium, police have detained 132 people who took part in an illegal party in a park to protest against COVID-19 restrictions, authorities said Sunday.
About 15 people, including protesters and police, were injured in clashes, police spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere said.
About 2,000 revellers and protesters had gathered in the park on Saturday for the second time in a month, and police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia will lift its suspension on citizens travelling abroad and open land, sea and air borders on Monday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Saudi citizens who have received two vaccination shots or one shot at least two weeks prior to travel, those who have recovered from the coronavirus within the last six months and those who are under 18 years old will be allowed to travel, the ministry said.
Saudi citizens have largely been barred from travel since March 2020, when the kingdom first prohibited all travel in and out of the country as COVID-19 began spreading worldwide.
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