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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday

اخبارالعرب 24-كندا:الأربعاء 19 يناير 2022 08:14 صباحاً The latest:

New Brunswick's health minister is asking the public for assistance as the province struggles with a growing wave of COVID-19 that has sparked concern over the strained health-care system.

"We need your help," Dorothy Shephard, the province's health minister, said in a statement. "Whether you are retired, non-practising or unlicensed – if you have experience that can help, please reach out to us."

The health minister said the Omicron variant is causing both increased hospitalizations and staff absences, which is "putting pressure on all aspects of our health-care system."

Health officials in New Brunswick on Tuesday said three more people who had COVID-19 had died, bringing the number of recorded deaths in the province to 192. The province also said a total of 113 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 15 in intensive care. The province, which is one of many jurisdictions in Canada that now restrict access to PCR testing, also reported an additional 330 lab-confirmed cases.

The province said it was looking for people to fill both paid and unpaid roles, noting in the statement that training and personal protective equipment would be provided.

New Brunswick's call for help came as Prince Edward Island announced tight new restrictions — including closing gyms and restaurant dining rooms — and extended remote learning until the end of January as officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19.  

As of Tuesday, the island had eight people in hospital being treated for COVID-19, including four in intensive care. The province also reported an additional 407 lab-confirmed cases.

Nova Scotia on Tuesday reported one additional COVID-19-related death. Health officials said in a statement there were 73 people in hospital "who were admitted due to COVID-19 and are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit." That figure includes 15 people being cared for in intensive care units, the province said.

The update came as the province reported an additional 415 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

"Now is the time to buckle down," Premier Tim Houston said in a statement. "I ask all Nova Scotians to do everything you can to keep COVID-19 out of our health-care system, long-term care facilities and our communities."

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials on Tuesday reported two additional deaths and said COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province stood at 14, with three people in critical care. The province also reported an additional 295 lab-confirmed cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

-From CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET


What's happening elsewhere in Canada

A man has a paper checked by an SAQ employee at an outlet in Montreal on Tuesday. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, vaccine passports will be mandatory to enter the SAQ and SQDC. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

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, Quebec health officials posted a COVID-19 update on Tuesday showing 3,417 hospitalizations, with 289 people in intensive care. The province also reported 89 additional deaths and 5,143 new lab-confirmed cases.

"In all likelihood, the number of cases has already peaked," Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec's interim public health director, told reporters. "We're starting to see the rise in hospitalizations slowing down, which is a very good sign, even if the situation in hospitals remains very fragile."

In Ontario, health officials on Tuesday reported 38 additional deaths and a new high for hospitalizations. According to the province's COVID-19 dashboard, 4,183 were in hospital, with 580 people in the province's intensive care units. The province also posted an additional 7,086 lab-confirmed cases.

In the North, the chief public health officer in the Northwest Territories on Tuesday said restrictions on gatherings were being extended until the end of the month. A statement from Dr. Kami Kandola said additional recommendations are being made for Inuvik and Fort Smith, including a call for work-from-home where possible, because of community transmission.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba on Tuesday reported three additional deaths in its COVID-19 update. The total hospitalizations stood at 620, with 48 in intensive care. The province also reported an additional 847 lab-confirmed cases.

In Saskatchewan, there were no additional COVID-19-related deaths reported on Tuesday. According to the province, the total number of hospitalizations increased to 189, with 18 people in intensive care units. The province also reported an additional 1,089 lab-confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, Alberta's chief medical officer of health said COVID-19 hospitalization rates are rising to levels not seen in the province since mid-October when the health-care system was grappling with the fourth wave. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the surging number of cases driven by the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant are starting to be reflected in hospital admissions.

As of Tuesday, the province's COVID-19 updates showed a total of 1,089 hospitalizations, with 104 people in intensive care units. The province also recorded nine additional deaths and 3,279 additional lab-confirmed cases.

"It is important to recognize that any COVID-positive admission has an impact on our acute-care capacity," Hinshaw said, as she outlined changes to how the province will report data on COVID-19 patients. "The bottom line is that our acute-care system remains under serious pressure and COVID-19 continues to pose a risk of severe outcomes to many Albertans." 

Gyms and other exercise facilities are being allowed to gradually reopen in British Columbia, a move the province's top doctor describes as a "cautious step" in lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Dr. Bonnie Henry said proof of vaccination will be required to use gyms, which will operate under capacity limits.

Henry said other restrictions that went into effect in December will remain in place because of the high rates of transmission and the number of people needing hospital care. Bars and nightclubs will stay closed and capacity limits for restaurants, theatres and stadiums will remain in place until Feb. 16.

The province on Tuesday reported a total of 854 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 112 in intensive care. The province also reported nine additional deaths and 2,032 lab-confirmed cases.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET


What's happening around the world

WATCH | China's COVID-19 testing threshold could keep some athletes from Olympics: 

China’s COVID-19 testing threshold could keep some athletes from Olympics

10 hours ago
Duration 2:54
With just days before hundreds of athletes, coaches and staff depart for the Beijing Winter Olympics, CBC News has learned that China's COVID-19 testing threshold is so high, it may prevent some athletes from competing — even if they’ve been previously cleared of the virus. 2:54

As of early Wednesday morning, roughly 334.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.5 million.

In Europe, France has registered 464,769 new COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, official data showed on Tuesday, the highest-ever recorded tally since the start of the pandemic.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the United Nations is preparing for distanced relief operations in Tonga to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak in the Pacific island nation that is reeling from the impact of a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an official said.

In Africa, Namibia's pandemic-ravaged tourism sector launched a campaign to encourage its employees to get inoculated as vaccine hesitancy threatens to derail the sector's revival.

Meanwhile, South Africa reported 3,658 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 100 additional deaths, though officials noted 30 of the deaths occurred in the previous 24 to 48 hours.

In the Americas, the U.S. government's new COVIDTests.gov website, set up for American households to order four free COVID-19 tests amid the Omicron variant surge, is up and running ahead of its official launch on Wednesday, the White House said.

In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 19 additional deaths and 4,060 new cases of COVID-19.

-From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:25 a.m  ET

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