Quebecers out in the streets after 8 p.m. Saturday can expect to be questioned by police as a month-long curfew comes into effect to control the spread of COVID-19.
The province announced earlier this week that the curfew will be in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., except for those who fall into certain exempted categories, such as essential workers.
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Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said earlier this week that the measure is designed to make it easier to catch people who are intent on gathering, in violation of current health orders.
She said in a tweet that the province will send out an emergency alert this afternoon to remind Quebecers of the curfew, and that police will be more visible on the streets over the weekend.
The curfew comes as Quebec’s COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise and hospitals say they’re filling up and risk becoming overwhelmed.
It will last at least four weeks, until Feb. 8, and violators could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
Meanwhile, federal procurement minister Anita Anand says Canada will do “whatever it takes” to get more vaccine doses delivered to Canada faster.
But she says there has not yet been any change in the number of doses Canada is expecting to receive this winter, and approvals for additional vaccines are still at least several weeks away.
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Anand says Canada has already put a number of offers on the table to vaccine makers to get more deliveries faster, including upping the price per dose.
Canada has approved two vaccines and is currently scheduled to receive four million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and another two million from Moderna before the end of March.
That is the same delivery plan that has existed since November.
Canada has given doses to fewer than 250 thousand people.
What’s happening across Canada
As of early Saturday morning, Canada had reported 644,348 cases of COVID-19, with 81,670 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,707.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is promising further restrictions coming for Ontario, as the province reported a record 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
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Quebec, which recently updated its restrictions and announced a four-week curfew, is also facing a strained health system. The province reported 2,588 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 45 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,606.
Manitoba announced 222 new COVID-19 cases and nine new deaths on Friday. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said there has been a spike in cases related to gatherings over the holidays.
Saskatchewan reported 336 new cases on Friday — the second day in a row that officials in the province recorded more than 300 new cases — and it announced seven additional deaths.
Alberta reported 1,183 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths on Friday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced the province has detected its first case of a variant of COVID-19 first found in South Africa.
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British Columbia health officials announced 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 more deaths. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said 358 people are in hospital, 75 of whom are in intensive care.
In the Northwest Territories, Indigenous leaders say the territorial government must address vaccine hesitancy if it wants to reach target immunization levels. The territory received 7,200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week, and unveiled its vaccination strategy on Tuesday.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 18 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, while Nova Scotia reported two new cases..
With case numbers rising in New Brunswick, health officials urged people to follow the rules, be honest with contact tracers and support people who are in isolation because of a positive test or a contact.
Nova Scotia announced that it is tightening border restrictions with New Brunswick. As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 9, everyone coming into Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for those who are crossing the border due to work, a medical appointment, child custody arrangements or legal reasons.
What’s happening around the world
As of early Saturday morning, more than 88.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.4 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.
In the Americas, Mexico on Friday posted its third straight day of a new high for coronavirus infections, with 14,362 newly confirmed cases and a near-record of 1,038 more deaths. The country has now topped 1.5 million total infections and over 132,000 deaths so far in the pandemic. The country’s extremely low testing rate means that is an undercount, and official estimates suggest the real death toll is over 180,000.
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In Europe, the United Kingdom Friday recorded its highest daily death toll, 1,325, as London declared a major incident, warning that its hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed. With a highly transmissible new variant of the virus surging across Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shuttered the economy and is rushing out vaccines faster than the country’s European neighbours in a bid to stem the pandemic.
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In the Asia-Pacific region, several regional governments in Japan have asked for a state of emergency declaration like the one issued by the prime minister to the Tokyo area to stem the surging rise in coronavirus cases. The heads of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures in central Japan relayed their request Saturday. There was no immediate decision, but the government panel of medical experts will study the situation. Japan’s state of emergency, which kicked in Friday for Tokyo and nearby Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, centers around asking restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. It lasts for a month but can be extended.
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In China, authorities are asking residents in two cities south of Beijing to stay home for seven days as they try to stamp out a coronavirus outbreak in which more than 300 people have tested positive in the past week. According to official notices on social media, the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai in Hebei province are restricting people to their communities and villages and have banned gatherings.
India will start its COVID-19 vaccination drive from Jan. 16 with priority given to about 30 million health care and front line workers, a government statement said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination program on Saturday, it said. India hopes to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people free of charge in the first six to eight months of this year.