British Columbia is delaying the full return to classrooms in January to allow public health officials to assess the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and give school staff time to implement enhanced safety measures.
Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Wednesday staff and students whose parents are health workers, as well as those who need extra support, will return to schools Jan. 3 or 4. All other students will return to classrooms Jan. 10.
“We have to ensure we have the foundations in place to keep our schools safely open,” Whiteside said.
British Columbia is not alone in adjusting the return to school. Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador said Wednesday that schools will shift to remote learning after the Christmas break, with the decision to be re-examined weekly.
Nova Scotia announced earlier this week that students will return to in-person learning, though they will be back in the classroom a few days later than originally scheduled. Manitoba had already announced a delay, saying before the Christmas holidays that a return to classrooms would be pushed back to Jan. 10.
The announcements in B.C., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador come as students, teachers and parents in Ontario wait for word on the return to school.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:50 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
For more details on the situation in your province and territory — including the latest on hospitalizations and ICU capacity, as well as struggles with testing capacity — click through to the local coverage below.
In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King outlined assistance measures for people impacted by COVID-19 on Thursday. The premier noted that cases have been rising on the island, but he noted that thus far most cases have been mild.
The update came as the province, which has not yet seen any COVID-19 deaths, reported 169 additional cases.
BREAKING: As of 8AM this morning there are 169 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PEI</a>. There are now 3 people in hospital with COVID-19. There are five people in hospital for other reasons who do have COVID. More details to come <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCPEI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCPEI</a>
In Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 349 new cases reported Thursday, another record high. Nova Scotia reported 522 new cases and is expanding booster eligibility to anyone 30 and up, beginning Monday, if they are six months out from their second dose.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston appealed during a Thursday afternoon briefing to retired health-care officials in the province to volunteer to help at vaccination clinics.
“We do need your skills. And the more people we can get, the quicker we can do this,” he said.
New Brunswick had not yet provided updated information for the day.
In Central Canada, Ontario on Thursday reported 13,807 new cases of COVID-19, a new high, with eight additional deaths. The update comes ahead of a planned afternoon briefing from Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Quebec also saw a fresh high on Thursday, with 14,188 new COVID-19 cases, and nine additional deaths. Premier François Legault is set to hold a briefing later Thursday, with some reports saying he’s expected to tighten restrictions.
Across the North, Nunavut’s premier said Wednesday that his government is seeking help from the federal government as COVID-19 cases rise. The update came as the territory reported 37 additional cases, bringing the number of active cases to 74.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba on Wednesday reported 947 new cases of COVID-19 — a new high — and one additional death. In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 293 cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.
Alberta more than doubled its active COVID-19 case count in a week, while recording its highest single-day increase of new infections. A record-setting 2,775 new cases were reported Wednesday.
In British Columbia, health officials reported five additional deaths on Wednesday and 2,944 new cases of COVID-19 — a new high for the province.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 1:15 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Thursday morning, roughly 284.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database, which tracks cases from around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.4 million.
In the Americas, Bolivia’s main cities cancelled any public activities for New Year’s Eve after the country reached a record 4,939 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number for one day in all the pandemic in the South American nation.
U.S. cases reached a record high, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said deaths and hospitalizations are “comparatively” low. However, some states are dealing with caseloads large enough to put serious strain on hospital systems.
The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has reached a pandemic record high in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday as he ordered additional members of the state National Guard into hospitals to help with the surge.
Ohio had 5,356 people in the hospital with the coronavirus Wednesday, the highest since the pandemic began in March 2020, accounting for more than one of every five hospital beds. That’s also the highest per-capita hospitalization rate in the country, said Robert Wylie, chief medical operations officer at the Cleveland Clinic.
More than nine of every 10 people hospitalized with COVID-19 since June have been unvaccinated, DeWine said.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the Chinese city of Xi’an reported on Thursday another 155 local cases, taking the total number to the highest seen in any Chinese city this year, as infections keep spreading eight days into a lockdown.
In Africa, health officials in South Africa reported 9,020 new cases of COVID-19 and 81 additional deaths.
In Europe, residents and tourists in Paris will be required to wear face masks outdoors starting Friday as France sees a surge of COVID-19 infections fuelled by the Omicron variant.
The Paris police prefecture said the mask rule will apply to people ages 12 and over, although individuals will be exempt while riding bicycles or motorcycles, travelling in vehicles and doing exercise.Those who do not comply face a fine.
Masks already are mandatory in shops, public facilities and office buildings and on public transportation in France. The French government announced measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus this week, when France reported a daily record of 208,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday reported 2,234 new cases of COVID-19, with no additional deaths.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET
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