Today’s coronavirus news: Canada surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 deaths; Bank of Canada to release an updated outlook for the economy; Canadian Medical Association says backlogs will worsen

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

6:06 a.m.: The Canadian Medical Association says ongoing surgical and diagnostic backlogs will only worsen without immediate government help to address a strained health-care system.

The CMA found average wait-times increased by one-to-two months for the most common procedures in the first wave and it would take $1.3 billion in additional funds to tackle procedures sidelined from January to June because they were deemed non-essential during the pandemic.

A study ordered by the organization looked at the six most commonly delayed procedures: CT and MRI scans, hip and knee replacements, cataract surgeries and coronary artery bypass grafts, which all plummeted in April, when almost no cataract or knee replacements took place.

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Although procedures gradually began to rebound in June, the report found more than 270,000 people had their MRI scans — which can detect serious disease or injury — delayed by a national average of nearly eight months, more than seven weeks longer than before the pandemic. Those waiting for knee replacement surgeries had to wait an average of 14 months, about two months longer than before the pandemic.

“The impact on wait times is just going to be the worst-ever in our system,” CMA president Dr. Ann Collins says.

“It’s going to have serious consequences the longer this pandemic goes on.”

6:05 a.m.: The Bank of Canada will release its updated outlook for the country’s pandemic-plagued economy.

The central bank in July said it believed the country had been spared from a worst-case scenario envisioned in April, but warned things could change.

Governor Tiff Macklem has said a severe second wave of the pandemic, health restrictions that extend beyond December and the timing of a vaccine or other effective treatment could all shift the country’s economic course.

This morning the central bank will provide a more detailed analysis of its forecast for the domestic economy as the country marches through a second wave of COVID-19.

Macklem has said the central bank will keep its key policy rate as low at it can go at 0.25 per cent until the economy has recovered and inflation is back at the bank’s two-per-cent target.

That means experts don’t expect the central bank to change the rate from near-zero when the bank makes its announcement later this morning.

6:04 a.m.: Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths Tuesday from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer, but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.

But she said she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks” but added that a vaccine is coming.

6:03 a.m.: There are 222,886 confirmed cases in Canada.

Quebec: 101,885 confirmed (including 6,172 deaths, 86,786 resolved)

Ontario: 72,051 confirmed (including 3,103 deaths, 61,530 resolved)

Alberta: 26,155 confirmed (including 309 deaths, 21,108 resolved)

British Columbia: 13,588 confirmed (including 259 deaths, 10,954 resolved)

Manitoba: 4,532 confirmed (including 58 deaths, 2,236 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 2,841 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 2,164 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 1,102 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,031 resolved)

New Brunswick: 334 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 273 resolved)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 291 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 282 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 64 confirmed (including 63 resolved)

Yukon: 22 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

Nunavut: No confirmed cases

Total: 222,886 (3 presumptive, 222,883 confirmed including 10,001 deaths, 186,460 resolved)

6:01 a.m.: Global shares are mostly lower as countries tighten precautions to try to stem rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

Optimism that the pandemic may have been brought somewhat under control has dissipated as infections continue to rise in Europe, the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Caution continues to hang over markets. Governments have begun to impose restrictions on businesses and other activities to help curb surging infections. That could choke off improvements seen since the summer. Fresh pandemic precautions are also drawing a public backlash despite spiking levels of illness in European countries.

France’s CAC 40 dropped 3.5 per cent in early trading to 4,565.93, while Germany’s DAX dropped 3.3 per cent to 11,663.00. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 2.3 per cent to 5,595.22. U.S. shares were poised for declines, with Dow futures down 1.7 per cent at 26,893.0, while S&P 500 futures were trading at 3,335.38, down 1.5 per cent.

6 a.m.: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for a partial lockdown as the number of newly recorded infections in the country hit another record high Wednesday.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, said 14,964 new cases were recorded across the country in the past days, taking the total since the start of the outbreak to 449,275. Germany also saw a further 27 COVID-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 10,098.

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Merkel meets Wednesday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states and senior government officials say she will demand they introduce measures to drastically reduce social contacts, echoing her repeated public appeals to citizens over the past two weeks that have so far not resulted in a drop in new cases.

5:59 a.m.: Small, yet so divided, Belgium has been hit hard again by the pandemic, and now presents some of the most worrying statistics in a continent reeling under the virus’ resurgence.

This week, news struck that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had recorded Belgium — shoehorned in between Germany, France and the Netherlands — as having the highest 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens, just surpassing the Czech Republic.

At 1,390.9 per 100,000 people, it far outstrips even hotbeds like France or Spain. Nearly 11,000 people have died so far, and experts say all such confirmed numbers undercount the true toll of the pandemic.

All this in a wealthy nation of 11.5 million people where no fewer than nine ministers — national and regional — have a say on health issues. The dictum “less is more” never reached the Belgian high echelons of power.

5:57 a.m.: Drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed to provide 200 million doses of their potential COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX Facility, a collaboration designed to give countries around the world equal access to coronavirus vaccines.

The Sanofi-GSK vaccine candidate is in early stage trials, with results expected in early December. The drugmakers said Wednesday that they plan to begin phase three trial by the end of the year and request regulatory approval of the vaccine in the first half of 2021.

The facility is part of COVAX, a coalition of governments, health organizations, businesses and charities working to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

5:56 a.m.: A shipping container holding more than six million medical gloves was stolen from a supplier in Florida on Sunday evening in a swift maneuver that left three hospital systems battling the pandemic without some of the crucial equipment that they were waiting for.

The gloves, worth about $1 million, were delivered Friday evening to Medgluv, the supplier, at its Coral Springs, Florida, office, about 40 miles north of Miami. The gloves had been running 12 days late during their delivery from the manufacturer in Malaysia, Medgluv’s vice president of sales and marketing, Rick Grimes, said Tuesday.

“That’s why hospitals were, for lack of a better term, clamouring” for the gloves, he said.

The container was parked at Medgluv’s loading dock on a chassis, Grimes said, waiting to be unloaded the next week. The trucking company had asked Medgluv’s owner if it could be delivered after the business day had ended, which was “a little bit unusual,” he said, although the owner accepted the after-hours delivery because Medgluv had been waiting so long for the products.

On Sunday around 11:40 p.m., according to surveillance footage, a semitruck pulled up to the container along with a white pickup truck.

The people in the trucks hooked the container to the truck “like it was any other type of day,” Grimes said. “These guys were in no hurry.”

They moved the container forward slightly and fumbled for a moment with its doors, which had been opened but shoved against the dock so that the cargo could not be reached unless the container was moved or the building’s loading door was opened, Grimes said.

They closed the doors and drove off. Grimes said the operation had taken them “less than six minutes.”

5:55 a.m.: The United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new coronavirus cases over the past week, as states and cities resorted to stricter measures to contain the virus that is raging across the country, especially the American heartland.

The record was broken Tuesday, even as the Trump administration announced what it called its first-term scientific accomplishments, in a press release that included “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC” written in bold, capital letters.

The record reflects how quickly the virus is spreading. It took nearly three months for the first 500,000 coronavirus cases to be tallied in the United States — the first was confirmed Jan. 21, and the country did not reach the half-million mark until April 11. Testing was severely limited in the early days of the pandemic.

5:54 a.m.: No dogpile, no champagne and a mask on nearly every face — the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their first World Series title since 1988 in a manner no one could have imagined prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

They started the party without Justin Turner, too, after their red-headed star received a positive COVID-19 test in the middle of their clinching victory.

Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Tuesday night after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days and wasn’t on the field as the Dodgers enjoyed the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season.

The 35-year-old Turner, a staple in the Dodgers’ lineup for seven of their eight consecutive NL West titles, returned to the field with his wife about an hour after the game and took photos with the World Series trophy. He got a hug from longtime teammate Clayton Kershaw and sat front-and-centre for a team photo.

“Thanks to everyone reaching out!,” Turner said on Twitter moments earlier. “I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA.”

Wednesday 5:52 a.m.: If Joe Biden wins next week’s election, he says he’ll immediately call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. He’ll work with governors and local officials to institute a nationwide mask-wearing mandate and ask Congress to pass a sweeping spending bill by the end of January to address the coronavirus and its fallout.

That alone would mark a significant shift from President Donald Trump, who has feuded with scientists, struggled to broker a new stimulus deal and reacted to the recent surge in U.S. virus cases by insisting the country is “rounding the turn.”

But Biden would still face significant political challenges in combating the worst public health crisis in a century. He will encounter the limits of federal powers when it comes to mask requirements and is sure to face resistance from Republicans who may buck additional spending.

“There are no magic wands,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University and former Maryland state health department chief who recently briefed Biden on reopening schools during the pandemic. “It’s not like there’s an election, and then the virus beats a hasty retreat.”

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