Canada’s two most populous provinces reported record daily COVID-19 caseloads as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged this won’t be the Christmas anyone had hoped for.
Ontario reported 2,447 new infections on Thursday, topping its previous high a week ago by 15. It also recorded 49 new deaths from the novel coronavirus.
Quebec, meanwhile, had 2,349 new infections, the third day in a row it hit a record. There were 46 additional deaths.
The pandemic means families aren’t supposed to gather the way they normally would for Christmas.
“This isn’t the holiday season we wanted, I know,” Trudeau said in his annual Christmas message.
“But here’s the thing: Even though this year’s Christmas traditions will be different, we can and should give thanks for everything that unites us.
“This crisis will end and as a country we will come out of it stronger and more united.”
In Ontario, sweeping provincewide restrictions come into effect on Boxing Day to stem the spread of the virus. They are to last a month in the southern part of the province and two weeks in the north.
The measures include a ban on indoor gatherings, a 10-person cap on outdoor gatherings, and the closure of non-essential businesses and sit-down dining.
In a video message posted on Twitter, Ontario Premier Doug Ford urged Ontarians to only go out if it’s necessary — even before the “lockdown” begins.
“Every time you take a trip, it puts people in jeopardy so please, as of right now … stay at home when you can,” he said.
“But folks, we will get through this. We have 28 days and we’re going to give it everything we can and we will come out stronger than ever after this.”
Quebec is closing all businesses the government deems “non-essential” on Christmas Day, until at least Jan. 11, in an effort to reduce transmission and ease pressure on the health-care system. Indoor and outdoor gatherings in the hardest-hit zones are not allowed over the holiday period.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said on Twitter that there were an estimated 1,100 cases identified the previous day and that seven per cent of tests were coming back positive. She said hospitalizations were on the rise, but intensive care admissions were stable.
Alberta has also prohibited indoor or outdoor social gatherings into the new year to get its COVID-19 caseload under control. Earlier this week, Premier Jason Kenney announced that a person living alone can attend one family gathering in another household over a five-day period that started Wednesday and that a household may have up to two single people as guests.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported two new cases and Nova Scotia recorded seven new infections.
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
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