At least two Canadian provinces have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any previous point in the pandemic, amid an Omicron-powered wave of infection across the country.
In Ontario, health officials reported Friday that hospitalizations had risen to 2,472 due to the illness. That was higher than a prior record set last April. The province also reported that 338 people were in intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
In the Maritimes, New Brunswick officials on Friday reported having 69 people in hospital with COVID-19 — 17 of whom are in the ICU. That exceeded a previous high of 68 set in October.
In Quebec, the government said earlier this week about 20,000 health-care workers are off the job after testing positive or being exposed to the virus. And four federal prisons in the province say they are now “very close” to experiencing staff shortages for the same reasons.
The province on Friday reported 27 additional deaths and 2,133 hospitalizations — with 229 in ICU. The update came as the province reported 16,176 additional cases.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:40 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.
For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.
You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.
In the North, Nunavut reported 35 new cases Friday, while Yukon reported 41 new cases and 149 new cases were reported in the Northwest Territories.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador health officials on Friday reported four hospitalizations and one additional death.
In Nova Scotia, health officials on Friday reported one additional death, as well as 48 hospitalizations.
In Prince Edward Island, there were two people in hospital being treated for COVID-19 Friday, down from four a day earlier.
In the Prairie provinces, hospitalizations in Manitoba rose to 297, health officials reported Friday. Thirty-four of those patients are in the ICU.
In neighbouring Saskatchewan, 105 such hospitalizations were reported as of Friday — including 11 people in the ICU. As well, 1,170 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the province, a new high. No additional deaths were reported.
In Alberta, health officials on Friday reported two additional deaths and 504 hospitalizations.
In British Columbia, the provincial government said Friday that thousands of students across the province will return to in-class learning Monday. Health officials said that the province has 349 current hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Nine additional deaths were reported Friday as well.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:50 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday evening, more than 302 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.4 million.
In Europe, British troops are deploying to hospitals in London that are struggling to cope with “exceptional” staff shortages amid the surge in COVID-19 cases fuelled by Omicron. The Ministry of Defence said Friday that it is sending some 40 military medics and 160 general duty staff to plug staffing gaps caused by National Health Service personnel who are either ill or self-isolating amid the spike in coronavirus cases in the capital.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and regional leaders tightened the rules for restaurant and bar visits but shortened COVID-19 quarantine periods on Friday in response to the Omicron variant.
In the Americas, hospitalizations of U.S. children under five with COVID-19 soared in recent weeks to their highest level since the pandemic began, according to government data released Friday on the only age group not yet eligible for the vaccine. The worrisome trend in children too young to be vaccinated underscores the need for older kids and adults to get their shots to help protect those around them, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Argentina and Brazil continued to report record spikes in daily cases, while Mexico braced for a grim death milestone, even as several nations raced to vaccinate residents amid doubts over lasting effects of booster doses.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand announced Friday it is tightening some entry restrictions while expanding its “sandbox” quarantine program, and urged people to follow social distancing and mask rules to control the spread of COVID-19 fuelled by the Omicron variant.
Also Friday, a health official in Pakistan said the country’s largest city, Karachi, is launching a door-to-door campaign to vaccinate women, who are lagging behind men in rates of coronavirus inoculation as the country enters a fifth wave.
Hong Kong authorities on Friday suspended several government officials from duty and will order about 170 people to be quarantined at a government facility after they attended a birthday party where two guests later tested positive for the coronavirus. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said in a statement late Friday that the officials who were at the party and who are subject to quarantine would be suspended from their duties and must use their vacation days while they are isolated for 21 days.
In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Thursday reported 9,860 additional cases and 551 additional deaths, though health officials noted the significant jump in reported deaths was “due to the ongoing audit exercise conducted by provinces across the country to address a backlog of COVID-19 mortality and new cases.”
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates on Thursday reported 2,687 additional cases of COVID-19, with no additional reported deaths.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 p.m. ET
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