Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

A couple wear masks while out for a walk in downtown Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, May 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Coronavirus variants now make up the majority of Canada’s new cases, Tam says

The latest:

Coronavirus variants now make up the majority of Canada’s new COVID-19 cases, the country’s chief public health officer said on Sunday, adding that the variant first identified in the U.K. is especially prevalent.

“Variants of concern (VOCs) represent a majority of cases in Canada, with the B117 variant now reported in all provinces & territories and accounting for over 95 per cent of VOCs sequenced to date,” Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter.

Tam reiterated that variants are more contagious and are associated with more severe outcomes, and some — like the P1 variant first identified in Brazil and the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa — are more resistant to vaccines.

The B117 has become the dominant strain in some provinces, with Manitoba saying last week it will stop notifying residents if they’ve contracted the variant as it now makes up the vast majority of cases.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6 p.m. ET Sunday, Canada had reported 1,234,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 83,752 considered active. A CBC tally of deaths stood at 24,300.

In Alberta, the provincial government has suspended the spring sitting of the legislature for two weeks, citing surging COVID-19 numbers.

The Alberta NDP said the decision was cowardly and leaves some important work unfinished, including paid sick leave and improving the province’s variant testing system. “All this work is being left undone because Jason Kenney is afraid of public scrutiny,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley said in a news release.

Alberta logged 1,731 new cases on Sunday, a day after seeing an all-time high of 2,433. The province also reported three additional deaths.

Saskatchewan tallied 238 new COVID-19 cases and an additional death on Sunday, while Manitoba reported 281 new cases and two more deaths.

Ontario registered 3,732 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths. The province has 1,961 people in hospital due to the illness, with 895 patients in ICUs, down from the record 900 in intensive care on Saturday.

On Monday morning, the province will be expanding vaccine eligibility to allow those 18 years of age and older who live in one of the 114 hot-spot communities to book their vaccine appointments through Ontario’s online portal.

Quebec confirmed 1,006 new cases and nine more deaths as hospitalizations continue to decline and authorities prepared to ease some public health measures.

The province announced last week that it would allow elementary school students in Quebec City to return to class on Monday. Elsewhere, the nighttime curfew in Montreal and neighbouring Laval is also moving from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. following about two weeks of stable cases and a slow decline in hospitalizations.

Quebecers aged 45 and up will also be able to book their vaccine appointments beginning Monday as the province gradually widens access to the general population in descending order of age.

New Brunswick saw its 37th virus-related death and six new cases on Sunday. Officials say the person was in their 80s and resided at Pavillon Beau-Lieu, a special care home in Grand Falls.

Nova Scotia reported 133 new cases, down slightly from Saturday’s record of 148. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, had warned on Friday that higher numbers were expected over the next few days as the province works through a backlog of tens of thousands of unprocessed COVID-19 tests.

Meanwhile, police in Halifax issued 17 tickets to people breaking public health rules after responding to three different noise complaints overnight. Halifax police have now issued 27 tickets over the weekend after giving out tickets to 10 people attending a house party on Parker Street in Halifax early Saturday. The province recently increased fines to $2,000 for breaking public health orders in response to a surge in cases.

Prince Edward Island added one new infection, in an individual in their 20s who recently travelled to P.E.I. from within Atlantic Canada, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said in a news release.

Newfoundland and Labrador logged seven new cases, while a cargo ship anchored in Conception Bay also reported 11 new confirmed cases. That brings the total number of infections among the Federal Montreal’s crew members to 12.

Twelve crew members on the Federal Montreal cargo ship, seen here anchored in Conception Bay, are confirmed to have COVID-19. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

The Northwest Territories declared its first school outbreak and stopped in-person learning for two weeks after a person connected to N.J. Macpherson School in Yellowknife tested positive.

In Nunavut, active cases rose to 80 after the territory tallied 11 new infections, all of them in Iqaluit. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson confirmed Friday, for the first time since the outbreak began, that there was evidence of community transmission.

Elsewhere in the territory, an outbreak has been declared at Mary River Mine, about 176 kilometres southwest of Pond Inlet. Patterson said there were nine active cases of the virus at the mine, and non-essential travel to and from the facility — including scheduled shift changes — has been delayed.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 152.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.1 million.

In Asia, India has opened vaccinations to all adults in hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections that has pushed hospitals to the brink and is killing thousands a day.

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment attends to COVID-19 patients in New Delhi on Sunday. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

In Europe, Belgian police detained 132 people who took part in an illegal party in a Brussels park to protest COVID-19 restrictions, authorities said Sunday.

In the Americas, a spike in cases and hospitalizations in Puerto Rico has thrown the U.S. territory off its herd immunity trajectory.

In Africa, Uganda has for the first time detected the variant first found in India, a senior health official said, stirring fears the East African nation could suffer a resurgence of cases just when its outbreak has waned.

With files from The Associated, Reuters, CTV News and CBC News