Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and key members of his cabinet are expected to take questions Wednesday on new COVID-19 health restrictions — which include a temporary suspension of in-class learning from kindergarten to Grade 12 across the province.
The premier, who introduced the tougher restrictions Tuesday night, said the rules are necessary to arrest a surging wave of COVID-19 cases that will otherwise overwhelm the health-care system.
“If we don’t want widespread delays or cancellations of surgeries and other health care, we have to stop the spike right now,” Kenney said. “If we want to guarantee a staffed hospital bed for every Albertan that may need one — for any reason, COVID-19 or otherwise — then we have to stop the spike right now.”
The changes include limiting retail capacity to 10 per cent, as well as ordering barbershops, hair salons and restaurant patios to shut down as of Sunday. Under the new rules, most workplaces with “transmission of three or more cases” will be required to shut down for 10 days.
As of Tuesday, Alberta’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 671 people were in hospital, with 150 in intensive care.
The Opposition NDP said Kenney is doing too little, too late — with little warning to those affected.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
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As of early Wednesday morning, Canada had reported 1,249,956 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 82,700 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,396.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and two additional deaths linked to the pandemic. Health officials in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while Prince Edward Island reported one new case.
In Quebec on Tuesday, health officials reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 594, with 155 people in intensive care.
Ontario, meanwhile, reported 2,791 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 25 additional deaths. According to the province, COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 2,167, with 886 in ICU due to COVID-related illness. The updated figures came as the province’s education minister announced that remote learning would be an option for students next fall.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 291 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, while Saskatchewan reported 189 new cases and two additional deaths.
A three-step plan to reopen Saskatchewan’s economy is in the works and Step 1 could be launched by the end of the month. Officials said three weeks after 70 per cent of residents aged 40 and up get their first shot, Step 1 goes into effect with rules similar to what were in place last summer. The other two steps are also based on vaccination targets.
Across the North, the Northwest Territories reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while Nunavut reported seven new cases. There were no new cases reported in Yukon.
In British Columbia, health officials on Tuesday recorded 697 new cases of COVID-19, along with one new death.
–From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 154.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been recorded around the world, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.2 million.
In the Americas, the White House says President Joe Biden is setting a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70 per cent of adult Americans by July 4. This comes as the administration pushes to make it easier for people to get shots and to bring the country closer to normalcy. The new goal includes fully vaccinating 160 million adults by Independence Day.
The U.S. is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but nearly twice as fast as needed to meet Biden’s target.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India accounted for nearly half of the COVID-19 cases reported worldwide last week, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, as the country’s coronavirus deaths rose by a new high of 3,780 during the last 24 hours.
The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that India accounted for 46 per cent of global cases and 25 per cent of global deaths reported in the past week. Daily infections in the country rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed, the 14th straight day of more than 300,000 cases.
India’s foreign minister pulled out of in-person meetings at a Group of Seven gathering in London today because of possible exposure to the coronavirus. India is not a G7 member, but was invited with three other countries as a guest for today’s talks on making COVID-19 vaccines available around the world.
Meanwhile, in Nepal, authorities extended a lockdown in the capital Kathmandu and surrounding districts by another week on Wednesday as the Himalayan nation recorded its highest daily tolls of COVID-19 infection and death.
The lockdown notice also said neighbourhood grocery stores would be allowed to open only two hours in the morning and there would be further restrictions imposed on movement of vehicles to curb the spiking number of cases.
In the Middle East, Iraq’s health minister has resigned over a week after a deadly fire ripped through a Baghdad hospital for coronavirus patients and killed dozens.
The United Arab Emirates has extended a ban on entry for travellers coming from India, the foreign ministry said.
In Europe, the medicines regulator said it has started a real-time review of Sinovac’s vaccine, based on preliminary results from animal and human trials.
In Africa, South Africa remained the hardest-hit country, with more than 1.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 54,500 deaths.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:35 a.m. ET