The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

9:35 a.m. The theft of 200,000 doses (or 75,000, depending on which story you read) of polio vaccine from the Micro-Biology and Hygiene Institute of Montreal more than six decades ago was then worth the princely sum of $50,000.

More concerning, it upended a provincial vaccination effort trying mightily to slow one of Canada’s last polio epidemics; a storm that had already infected more than 500 and left 29 dead in Montreal alone. Police were sent scrambling, desperate to uncover the doses before they expired.

With multiple candidates racing into the final stretch — Britain became the first country to authorize a vaccine for use this week — COVID-19 vaccines are about to become one of the hottest commodities on the planet. In seeking a distribution company, Canada’s government notes in its tender that doses must be trackable, and “safeguarded at all times as high value assets and high value targets for criminal elements.”

Around the world, everything from dummy shipments to armed escorts and elaborate GPS tracking are being floated as potential security measures.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex Boyd on how we plan to keep COVID-19 vaccines safe.

9:27 a.m. Pope Francis says the Christmas season provides reason for hope amid the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.

During his Sunday blessing, Francis noted that the Vatican’s Christmas tree had gone up last week in St. Peter’s Square, and that work is underway to build the life-size Nativity scene next to it.

Pointing to the tree from his studio window over the square, Francis said such symbols of Christmas “are signs of hope, especially in this difficult period.”

9:12 a.m. Each spring, near a south Florida seaside strip known as the Broadwalk, the grateful retailers and restaurateurs of Hollywood Beach gather for a two-day celebration of all things Canada.

“Canadafest” has played out for nearly 40 years in the heart of a uniquely Canadian diaspora south of Fort Lauderdale, a way of saying thank you to the roughly 1.2 million people from north of the border who visit the state annually.

COVID-19, of course, had other plans.

It’s just one illustration of the looming “dark winter” the pandemic has wrought in the United States, where the number of single-day deaths and new infections have blown past earlier peaks established in the spring.

And in a part of the country that has come to embrace Canada’s seasonal visitors as family, the health risks and cross-border travel restrictions are sure to amplify the pain.

8:30 a.m. A new study, currently in pre-print and under peer review at a medical journal, shines a light on just how many long-term-care residents suffering from COVID-19 may have been denied the hospital care they desperately needed before death.

The study by researchers at the University of Toronto and Public Health Ontario looks at the number of people with COVID-19 who were hospitalized before death and finds that in March and April, when hundreds of long-term-care homes in the province were experiencing outbreaks, just 15.5 per cent of nursing home residents with the virus were hospitalized before they died.

This reached a high of 41.2 per cent in June and July when the first wave was ending. That compares to 81.4 per cent of people who lived in the community, a percentage that has held steady throughout the pandemic.

Looking at the pandemic as a whole, from March to October, the trend was similar: overall, just 22.4 per cent of nursing home residents with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital before death, compared to 81.4 per cent for community residents.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace here.

7:19 a.m. Italy had more than 21,000 daily coronavirus cases and added 662 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The 21,052 new cases raised Italy’s total to nearly 1.6 million. There’s been 59,514 confirmed deaths, the second-highest toll in Europe behind Britain’s toll.

This week, Italy’s Premier Giuseppe Conte signed a decree limiting travel between regions Dec. 21 to Jan. 6, national Epiphany Day holiday. Conte hopes that will prevent holiday vacations that could fuel contagion.

7:15 a.m. The Oregon Medical Board has suspended the medical license of a doctor who said at a pro-Trump rally that he doesn’t wear a mask at his Dallas, Oregon, clinic.

KGW-TV reported Friday that Dr. Steven LaTulippe also said at the November rally that he also encourages others not to wear masks.

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A state order requires health care workers to wear a mask in health care settings.

The medical board voted this week to suspend LaTulippe’s license immediately due to concerns about patient safety.

LaTulippe did not respond to a request for comment from KGW-TV and has previously declined to comment.

7:07 a.m. South Korea says it’ll further toughen physical distancing rules as recent restrictions has failed to curb a viral resurgence that threatens the country’s health care system.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday recently elevated distancing rules haven’t showed much effect. Park says South Korea could face a shortage of intensive care unit beds if the current level continues for one to two weeks.

Under new restrictions effective Tuesday for three weeks, authorities will shut down karaoke rooms, fitness centres, indoor gyms and most of cram schools in the Seoul metropolitan area. Some high-risk facilities like nightclubs in the Seoul area have already been shut down.

Events must be under 50 people in the Seoul area and sports matches will be held without fans.

7:05 a.m. Eight people in the northern Chinese city of Manzhouli have coronavirus after everyone in the city was tested following the discovery of two locally acquired infections, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

Authorities conducted nucleic acid tests on 203,378 people in the city on the border with Mongolia in two rounds starting Nov. 22 and Nov. 27.

The city had 24 locally acquired cases as of Sunday, Xinhua said. It said 1,239 people who had close contact with them were under medical observation.

Sunday 7 a.m. Coronavirus infections in Russia hit a new record on Sunday, as the country’s authorities registered 29,039 new confirmed cases, the highest daily spike in the pandemic.

Russia’s total of over 2.4 million reported infections remains the fourth largest caseload in the world. Russia has also reported 43,141 virus-related deaths.

Russia has been swept by a resurgence of the virus this fall, with daily confirmed infections and deaths significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. Nevertheless, Russian authorities have rejected the idea of another nationwide lockdown or any widespread closures of businesses.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin ordered a “large-scale” vaccination against COVID-19 to begin in Russia with the domestically developed Sputnik V vaccine that is still undergoing advanced studies needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Doctors and teachers will be first in line to get inoculated, Putin said.

Saturday 7:30 p.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday Dec. 5, 2020.

There are 408,921 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 408,921 confirmed cases (71,450 active, 324,882 resolved, 12,589 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,352 new cases Saturday from 79,671 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,361 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,194.

There were 93 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 598 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 85. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.49 per 100,000 people.

There have been 11,905,770 tests completed.

Click here to read more of Saturday’s COVID-19 coverage.



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