- Virus flare-ups in Europe lead to travel restrictions, mask orders.
- Manitoba ties previous record for most coronavirus cases announced in single day.
- India’s coronavirus death toll overtakes Britain to become 4th highest in world.
- Canadian health officials warn of potential ‘fall peak’ in COVID-19 cases.
- Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until Sept. 21.
- Argentina extends COVID-19 lockdown in and around Buenos Aires.
New flare-ups of COVID-19 are disrupting the peak summer vacation season across much of Europe, where authorities in some countries are reimposing restrictions on travellers, closing nightclubs again, banning fireworks displays and expanding mask orders even in chic resort areas.
“Unfortunately, this virus doesn’t play ball,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.
The surges have spread alarm across Europe, which suffered mightily during the spring but appeared in recent months to have largely tamed the coronavirus in ways that the U.S., with its vaunted scientific prowess and the extra time to prepare, cannot seem to manage. The continent’s hardest-hit countries, Britain, Italy, France and Spain, have recorded about 140,000 deaths in all.
In addition to clubs and alcohol-fuelled street parties, large family gatherings — usually abounding with hugs and kisses — have been cited as a source of new outbreaks in several European countries.
WATCH | COVID-19 spikes prompt new restrictions in Europe:
In France, thousands of vacationing Britons scrambled to return home Friday to avoid having to self-quarantine for 14 days following Britain’s decision to reimpose restrictions on France because of a resurgence of infections there. Ferries added extra trips back to England, and trains were running out of space.
The British government said it was compelled to impose the quarantine requirement on people returning from France in light of a 66 per cent increase in infections in France in the past week. The requirement applied to anyone returning after 4 a.m. on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille and its surrounding area high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localized curbs to contain the spread of the disease.
“The situation is deteriorating from week to week,” the head of France’s national health service, Jerome Salomon, said on France Inter radio.
Some of the toughest new measures were announced in Spain, which has recorded almost 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days.
Health Minister Salvador Illa, after an emergency meeting with regional leaders, said nightclubs nationwide were ordered to close. Visits to nursing homes will be limited to one person a day for each resident for only one hour.
“We can’t be undisciplined,” he said.
A new public awareness campaign by Spain’s Canary Islands depicts a family gathering for a grandfather’s birthday, with people taking off masks and embracing. The grandfather ends up in a hospital bed with COVID-19.
In Italy, which is also faced with a surge of cases, seaside towns announced new restrictions, including bans on fireworks at beaches. The moves came just ahead of Italy’s biggest summer holiday, Ferragosto, which millions of Italians celebrate at the seashore, in the mountains or on trips abroad.
With some of Italy’s 200-plus infection clusters traced to patrons of crowded seaside dance clubs, the governor of Calabria, the region that forms the toe of Italy, ordered such nightspots closed.
Italy’s Health Ministry said 574 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Friday — the highest daily number since May 28.
In Greece, authorities strongly recommended people wear masks for a week indoors and out in public areas after returning from domestic vacation destinations with a high COVID-19 incidence.
Gatherings of more than nine people were prohibited on two popular Greek resort islands, Paros and Antiparos, and a ban on restaurants, bars and nightclubs operating after midnight was expanded to more parts of the country, including Athens.
The steps came as Greece recorded its second-highest daily infection numbers — 254 new cases.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 121,484 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 107,825 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,056.
Canada’s top doctors say they’re striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across the country.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo presented new coronavirus modelling on Friday, flagging a potential surge in cases several times worse than what has been seen so far in Canada.
WATCH | Dr. Tam flags a potential fall surge in cases:
Tam said that the fall surge will coincide with the flu and cold season, potentially putting added strains on hospitals and other health resources.
She declined to put a figure on what the caseload might look like but said health authorities should plan for “something that’s at least several times worse than your previous experience.” There is much that’s still unknown about COVID-19, including whether it accelerates with seasonality.
Tam said what actions Canadians take now will determine how transmissions unfold in the fall.”Continuing to build up capacity across our health, public health and laboratory systems while urging all Canadians to continue with public health practices will give us the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a slow burn,” Tam said.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday that the federal government will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until Sept. 21.
The closure to non-essential travel has been in place for months, but with caseloads still high in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world’s longest international border.
WATCH | New York congressman on impact of border closure:
Manitoba announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 246 and tying its previous record for most cases announced in a single day.
The last time Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, announced 40 cases at once was on April 2.
More than half of the latest group of cases — 25 — are in the Prairie Mountain Health region. That region includes the city of Brandon, which currently has 90 active cases.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 21 million. Over 761,000 people have died, while 13 million have recovered.
Argentina is extending restrictions taken against the coronavirus until Aug. 30, President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday, affirming that the country’s lockdown would continue in its current form in and around capital city Buenos Aires.
The measures, which are more relaxed in less densely populated areas, had been scheduled to expire on Sunday.
“The only medicine we have found so far is to limit the movement of people and the face-to-face meeting of people as much as possible,” Fernandez said. “The plan worked, and it is working, but the risk always exists.”
Argentina’s lockdown began on March 20. The country has had 276,072 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 5,428 of which have been fatal.
India’s coronavirus death toll has overtaken Britain’s to become the fourth-highest in the world, with another single-day record increase in cases Friday.
According to the Health Ministry, India reported 1,007 deaths in the past 24 hours. Its total rose to 48,040 deaths, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
WATCH | Fighting COVID-19 misinformation with video game:
India’s confirmed cases reached 2,461,190 with a single-day spike of 64,553 in the past 24 hours. More than 70 per cent of people infected in India have recovered.
Also on Friday, authorities said one in five prisoners at the largest jail in Indian-administered Kashmir has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Authorities at the central jail in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar said they were preparing to shift some prisoners after 102 of the 480 tested positive.
Vietnam has registered to buy a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, state television reported on Friday, as it fights a new outbreak after going several months with no local cases.
Russia said on Wednesday that it would roll out the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks, rejecting the concerns of experts who said it should not have been approved before completing large-scale trials.
“In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country’s own COVID-19 vaccine,” state broadcaster Vietnam Television said, citing the country’s Ministry of Health.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lifted a three-week lockdown in the city of Kaesong and nearby areas, after a man who defected to the South returned to the border town last month showing coronavirus symptoms, state media said on Friday.
Kim made the decision at a politburo meeting convened to discuss the government’s efforts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, as well as the response to heavy rain and flooding, state news agency KCNA reported.
North Korea has said it has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but Kim said last month that the virus “could be said to have entered” the country and imposed the lockdown after the man was reported to have symptoms. Later test results on the man were “inconclusive,” according to the World Health Organization.
A man in his 20s has become the youngest person to die of the coronavirus in Australia.
He was among 14 new deaths and 372 new infections reported by Victoria state health officials Friday in an outbreak centred in Melbourne.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 188 elderly people had died over the past week as the virus ripped through aged-care homes in Melbourne. Officials say about 70 per cent of Australia’s 375 virus deaths have been at aged-care facilities.
Morrison said Australians had high expectations of the services and standards at nursing homes and other facilities like hospitals and schools.
New Zealand’s government has extended a lockdown of its largest city Auckland for another 12 days as it tries to stamp out its first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months.
The outbreak has grown to 30 people and extended beyond Auckland for the first time.
Until the cluster was discovered Tuesday, New Zealand had gone 102 days without infections spreading in the community, with the only known cases being travellers quarantined after arriving from abroad.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said extending the lockdown will give health authorities time to get a handle on the cluster and isolate those infected.