The country’s deputy chief public health officer says the biggest problem with COVID19 in Canada now is community transmission. Dr. Howard Njoo says Canadians can’t be stopped from travelling abroad, though the federal government is strongly advising against it. His comments come after Ontario Premier Doug Ford blasted the federal government for not being tough enough at airports. Ford is calling on Ottawa to enact stricter border controls to protect Canadians from a new strain of the virus that causes COVID19. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the country’s border controls and its 14-day quarantine requirement are among the strictest in the world. He says COVID19 infections related to international travel currently account for less than two per cent of all cases.
Here is yesterday’s federal update:
Bill Blair Says Travel is Not the Cause of Rising COVID Numbers:
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says 301 people were aboard two planes that were in the air when Canada suspended passenger flights from the United Kingdom. He says all of those people were closely screened upon arrival and are isolating for 14 days. Blair also says most people in Canada are getting COVID-19 from the community — not from travelling. The minister’s comments followed criticism from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who believes not enough is being done to prevent travellers from bringing the coronavirus into Canada.
So Far Canada Has No Cases of the British COVID19 Variant:
Canada’s chief public health officer says no cases of the new variant of the virus that causes COVID19 have been found in Canada. But Dr. Theresa Tam says the country has more than 77,000 active cases of COVID19 with about 3,200 people hospitalized on an average day in the past week. Tam says Canada could also have an even stronger resurgence if people don’t obey public health advice. Her comments come as the entire province of Ontario prepares to be locked down on Boxing Day.
Ontario Cutting Hydro Rates During the Lockdown:
Ontario will cut hydro rates for 28 days, starting Jan. 1. This comes after the government announced a provincewide lockdown, encouraging Ontarians to stay at home. The reduction to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour will be automatically credited on bills.
Here is yesterday’s news conference from Premier Ford:
Ontario Drivers’ Tests Are Being Cancelled:
Ontario is cancelling all in-vehicle road tests as a result of the provincewide lockdown on Dec. 26. It says road tests across northern Ontario will be cancelled until Jan. 9, while the rest will be cancelled until Jan. 23. There will be no penalty for cancelled road tests and clients will receive a credit to rebook their tests once the lockdown ends. DriveTest centres will remain open for essential indoor services, such as knowledge tests.
As a result of the Provincewide Shutdown, on December 26, all in-vehicle passenger tests will be cancelled without penalty across Northern Ontario until January 9 and for all regions in Southern Ontario until January 23. [1/2]
— Caroline Mulroney (@C_Mulroney) December 22, 2020
Some Ontario Parents Getting More Money from the Government:
The Ontario government is giving $200 to parents with children in high school. It says this can be used for education expenses as all classes move online for the first week of January. Students are expected to gradually return to in-class learning depending on their location and grade level.
Parents need extra supports during these challenging times. That’s why we are expanding our #SupportForLearners to help even more Ontarians.
Starting January 11, families of secondary students will be eligible to receive a one-time payment of $200 for education related expenses. pic.twitter.com/I4YbQYOJ0c
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 22, 2020
A Warning About Some PPE Being Sold in Canada:
Health Canada is warning people to stop using personal protective equipment and medical devices being sold online by a Brampton company called Maskopia. The unlicensed supplies — including isolation gowns, cloth masks advertised as surgical masks, gloves and other PPE — may not provide the level of protection advertised. Health Canada says anyone who did buy the items should dispose of them.
Yesterday the province released some shocking new COVID19 numbers. They announced 90 new hospitalizations from the virus. There were also 21 new deaths and 20 more people moved onto a ventilator. For the 24-hour period, Ontario added 2,202 cases based on 45,300 tests completed. Locally, there were 636 new cases in Toronto, 504 in Peel, 218 in York Region and 172 in Windsor-Essex County.
Ontario is reporting 2,202 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 45,300 tests completed. Locally, there are 636 new cases in Toronto, 504 in Peel, 218 in York Region and 172 in Windsor-Essex County.
Today’s numbers will be available at 10:30 a.m. at https://t.co/ypmgZbVRvn.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 22, 2020
Quebec announced a record single day total of 2,183 new COVID19 cases yesterday.
BC Joins Ontario in Capping Food Delivery Fees:
BC’s public safety minister has announced a temporary fee cap of 15 per cent charged to restaurants by food delivery companies to help the struggling hospitality industry. Mike Farnworth says an additional limit of five per cent has also been set on related fees, such as payment processing for online orders, to ensure delivery costs will not be shifted to other charges for restaurants. He says the caps will be implemented on Sunday.
New Cases in BC:
Health officials in BC have detected another 20 cases of COVID19 at Big White ski resort in Kelowna. The Interior Health authority says the outbreak is mostly related to housing, and 96 cases have been linked to the cluster. t says the latest infections are related to transmission within group housing as well as social events and gatherings at the resort. The province announced yesterday that it was extending its state of emergency in response to the COVID19 pandemic, allowing officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the act.
Alberta Fine Tunes Restrictions:
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says starting today and for the following five days, a person living alone can attend one family gathering in another household. A household may have up to two single people as guests. This is a holiday exception to a public health order brought in two weeks ago that bans any indoor or outdoor gatherings through the new year to try to reduce the spread of COVID19.
Here is yesterday’s Alberta update:
The Yukon is Now COVID Free:
Yukon’s chief medical officer of health says there are no longer any active cases of COVID19 in the territory. Speaking in Whitehorse, Dr. Brendan Hanley said the territory’s last case, number 59, was declared recovered yesterday. He says he looks forward with hope and optimism as the territory has entered what he calls the beginning of the end. Hanley and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver say self-quarantine restrictions, limits on the size of gatherings and the requirement to wear masks and maintain physical distancing will remain in effect
Manitoba is Handing Out Lots of Tickets:
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is once again imploring people to follow public health rules to get the number of COVID19 infections down. He says 35 tickets were issued in just seven days to people who violated a ban on social gatherings in private homes. Since April, the province has issued 559 tickets to people and businesses for breaking public health rules. Pallister also announced yesterday that his government is giving $5-million-dollars to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to help restaurants pay for food delivery costs.
California Has Had a Half Million New Cases in the Past Two Weeks:
California has recorded 500,000 COVID19 infections in the past two weeks. And both Governor Gavin Newsom and the mayor of Los Angeles are warning it is too risky to celebrate the holidays normally. Newsom says the latest projections show California could have 100-thousand hospitalizations in the next month, and the system is already overwhelmed.
In the first 100 days of my administration, we will:
– Ask all Americans to mask up
– Administer 100 million vaccine shots
– Get most schools back open
We’re going to contain the virus and get back to our lives.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 22, 2020
Trump Says The New Aid Package Isn’t Enough:
President Donald Trump is threatening to torpedo Congress’ massive COVID19 pandemic relief package. He’s suddenly demanding changes fellow Republicans have opposed, like a huge jump in the $600-dollar payments planned for most Americans. Trump assailed the bipartisan $900-billion-dollar package in a video he tweeted out last night, and suggested he may not sign it.
Peru Reaches Grim New Milestone:
Peru has passed a million confirmed cases of COVID19. It is the fifth country in Latin America to report that number as the region struggles with the pandemic’s economic and health effects. Peru’s government was quick to declare lockdown measures for its 32 million people last March as the pandemic spread in Europe, but it’s struggled to contain the virus. More than 37,000 people have died from COVID19 in Peru, giving it the world’s second highest per capita death toll from the pandemic.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
It was nothing but bad news yesterday from Waterloo Region Public Health. They announced 90 new COVID19 cases in the Region and 4 more deaths. That puts the local death toll up to 147. There are now 598 active cases, which is an all-time high. 40 people are in hospital with COVID19. 12 are in intensive care. Almost half of the hospitalizations are a Grand River Hospital which says it is reaching critical mass.
The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit reported 26 new cases yesterday. About 85% of them were in Guelph. There are now 280 active cases with 13 people hospitalized.
Hope is here! Elmira personal support worker Siham Ibrahim receives region’s first COVID-19 vaccine.Thanks to all involved for making this incredible milestone possible & thanks to all on the front-lines keeping our community healthy & safe. pic.twitter.com/0RY3WeMqpI
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) December 22, 2020
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC / Liberal Party of Canada via YouTube screenshot