Here are the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Thursday, December 31, 2020:
- There have been 178,831 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, an increase of 2,923 (or 1.7 per cent) from the previous day. There are 153,799 people recovered from the virus while 4,474 people have died. The number of Ontario people tested is 7,858,200 of which 54,955 have pending results.
- Canada’s coronavirus case total is 572,982. The country has 15,472 deaths from the virus – one in the Yukon, one in Nunavut, 893 in British Columbia, 1,046 in Alberta, 154 in Saskatchewan, 661 in Manitoba, 4,474 in Ontario, 8,165 in Quebec, eight in New Brunswick, four in Newfoundland & Labrador and 65 in Nova Scotia.
- The Eastern Ontario Health Unit region added 50 cases Wednesday – 20 in Prescott-Russell, 15 in SD&G and 15 in Cornwall – to bring the regional total to 1,393 confirmed cases, of which 259 are active (20 more than Tuesday) and 1,101 are resolved (30 more than Tuesday). The number of deaths is 33. Five people are in hospital. There are 11 active outbreaks (includes nursing and retirement homes, lodging homes, group homes, schools and daycare). Testing increased by 1,071 to 93,637. The breakdown of cases is: Prescott-Russell 819 cases (140 active), SD&G 279 cases (57 active), Cornwall 255 cases (61 active) and Akwesasne (ON/QC) 40 cases (one active).
- EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis doesn’t believe the lockdown will end after 28 days. With the province hitting another daily record high of new cases Wednesday and the fallout from Christmas gatherings not even realized yet, Roumeliotis tells Ottawa radio station CFRA he’s “discouraged” and he’s “not even sure now” whether a month will be enough time to turn the situation around.
- While the more contagious COVID-19 strain from the United Kingdom hasn’t shown up in the EOHU area, the health unit says local tests are monitoring for it and it’s another reason the community “must remain hyper-vigilant” and take precautions.
- The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit added nine cases Wednesday, to bring the regional total to 674 confirmed cases, of which 28 are active (10 more than Tuesday) and 593 are recovered (two more than Tuesday). The number of deaths to date is 53. There are no institutional outbreaks. The community case breakdown is: Leeds-Grenville East (eight active), Leeds-Grenville Central (two active), Leeds-Grenville West (five active), Lanark County West (10 active) and Lanark County East (two active).
- Premier Doug Ford says he found out two weeks ago his finance minister, Rod Phillips, had travelled abroad. The premier says Phillips never told anyone he was going to St. Barts but he found out after the fact. Ford adds he made a mistake in not immediately asking Phillips to return. There are calls for the finance minister to resign.
- People travelling to Canada by plane will have to test negative for COVID-19 before landing. That announcement from Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc didn’t come with a date when the new requirement would be in effect.
- The City of Ottawa has a temporary mask bylaw for designated outdoor public spaces – primarily skating rinks – until the provincial lockdown is over. The new law started at 5 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday). It applies to publicly accessible unenclosed areas that are 15 meters (49 feet) from the edge of an ice surface.
- Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccination program appears to be slow out of the gate. According to a vaccine distribution expert, the province’s main challenge is Pfizer requiring it to reserve half the doses for that second booster shot required 21 days after the initial dose. Quebec had another 2,511 coronavirus cases Wednesday.
- The booze will stop flowing at 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve at British Columbia bars. The provincial order is meant to stop what the province’s top doctor calls “risky behaviour” that spreads the virus.
- Prescott’s town hall and library are closed until at least Saturday, Jan. 23 under the Ontario-wide lockdown. The library is offering curbside pickup and the town is covering essential services by appointment.
- Actress Dawn Wells, best known for playing Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, has died from complications due to COVID-19. Wells was 82 years old.
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