KEY FACTS

6 a.m.: Almost 140,000 people in the U.K. have been vaccinated against coronavirus in the first week of the rollout

5 a.m.: The Star reached out to about 200 experts with a short survey on their holiday plans

Manitoba says high-priority health workers will be getting the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.

4 a.m.: Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador to begin vaccinations today

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

7:10 a.m. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive declines in public transit ridership across Canada, yet many cities decided to maintain service levels this year, while others even chose to expand.

Not long after the global health crisis reached Canada, rates of public transit use across the country dropped by about 85 per cent, according to prof. Matti Siemiatycki of University of Toronto’s geography and planning department.

The transportation policy expert said there were fears transit agencies in Canada would have to make drastic service cuts. “Public transit networks have been among the most impacted sectors in the economy from the pandemic,” he said in a recent interview.

Instead, provincial and federal funding rescued the country’s transit systems from the verge of collapse, he said. In the United States, however, public transit systems are facing the “dreaded transit death spiral,” Siemiatycki said, where cuts lead to further declines in ridership, which lead to further cuts and declines.

6 a.m.: Almost 140,000 people in the U.K. have been vaccinated against coronavirus in the first week of the rollout, the government said.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said there were 108,000 vaccinations in England, 18,000 in Scotland, 7,897 in Wales and 4,000 in Northern Ireland — a total of 137,897 over seven days.

In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, Zahawi said it was a “really good start” to the vaccination program and the numbers will increase as the shot is rolled out to community-based family doctors.

The U.K. last week became the first western nation to start Covid-19 vaccinations, with those aged over 80, health-care workers and care home staff at the front of the line for the shots made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed it as a “huge step forward” in the fight against the virus, which has infected more than 1.8 million people and killed more than 64,000 people across Britain.

5 a.m.: After a busy year advising on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, University of Toronto immunologist Eleanor Fish is particularly excited to enjoy this Hanukkah with friends and family, albeit virtually.

While this year won’t be the usual big gathering, Fish and her family aren’t skipping out on any traditions, like their annual latke cook-off, which they plan to hold virtually with relatives in the United Kingdom.

“We’ve made every effort to make this as joy-filled as possible,” she said in an interview.

Like many Canadians, Fish and other COVID-19 experts have had to make tough personal decisions about how to mark the winter holidays during the pandemic. Families are separated across households, and sometimes continents, parties are cancelled, and virtual dinners interrupted by poor internet connections. But they have expert knowledge of the impact of gathering on the spread of COVID-19, and all felt a personal responsibility to lead by example.

The Star reached out to about 200 experts, including Fish, with a short informal survey on their holiday plans, whether that involved celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just enjoying some time off work. Seventy-eight epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, health analysts, virologists, immunologists, biostatisticians, a few PhD students and others — all engaging directly with COVID-19 — from coast to coast, responded.

The resounding message? The holidays aren’t cancelled. But they will be different.

Read the full story from May Warren and Lex Harvey here.

4:18 a.m.: Germany recorded 910 coronavirus fatalities in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, the most since the pandemic began, as a strict shutdown designed to stem a surge in infections comes into force.

The daily increase in deaths exceeded the previous record of 604 on Friday, and took the total to 23,544, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of new cases rose by 21,456 to 1.38 million.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the country faces a new peak of Covid-19 infections next month, suggesting that the tougher restrictions will remain in place beyond January.

Other key COVID-19 developments from Bloomberg News this morning:

A Chinese drugmaker has secured 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, as the country seeks overseas shots in addition to home-made ones to ensure immunization for the world’s most populous nation.U.S. hospitalizations for the coronavirus increased by more than 1,200 patients a day in the six days through Tuesday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. There were 112,483 Covid-19 patients in U.S. hospitals as of Dec. 15, a 7.1% increase since Dec. 9. California and New York accounted for almost three-quarters of the increase.Serology testing has revealed nearly half of the 323,000 migrant workers living in Singapore dormitories were infected with COVID-19, far higher than the official tally and indicating the virus spreads widely among people who may not have any symptoms. The city-state has reported more than 54,500 infections in dormitories since the pandemic began, making up more than 93% of all confirmed cases. The economic blow from the coronavirus has wiped out 81 million jobs across Asia-Pacific this year, with women and young people disproportionately affected, according to the International Labour Organization.Pfizer rebutted comments by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that the company has had a “production issue” that’s delaying deliveries of its vaccine to the state. Florida received 179,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

4 a.m.: More provinces are planning to administer their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today.

Manitoba says high-priority health workers will be getting the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are also gearing up to start immunizations.

Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia began giving shots Tuesday, after the first ones in Canada were given in Ontario and Quebec on Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said Canada is to get up to 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine by the end of December, ahead of schedule.

It has not yet been approved by Health Canada, but Trudeau said deliveries could begin within 48 hours of getting the green light.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday Dec. 16, 2020.

There are 475,214 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 475,214 confirmed cases (75,580 active, 385,975 resolved, 13,659 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,352 new cases Tuesday from 57,193 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,179 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,597.

There were 106 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 792 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 113. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,691,950 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 359 confirmed cases (20 active, 335 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 429 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 67,744 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 89 confirmed cases (16 active, 73 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 911 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 10.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of five new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 73,222 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,426 confirmed cases (57 active, 1,304 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were six new cases Tuesday from 1,370 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.44 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 163,116 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 559 confirmed cases (48 active, 503 resolved, eight deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 407 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.18 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 18 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

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There have been 109,977 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 167,276 confirmed cases (16,811 active, 142,894 resolved, 7,571 deaths).

There were 1,741 new cases Tuesday from 11,592 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,536 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,791.

There were 38 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 258 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 37. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 89.23 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,349,554 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 144,396 confirmed cases (17,031 active, 123,373 resolved, 3,992 deaths).

There were 2,275 new cases Tuesday from 38,272 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 116.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,927.

There were 20 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 184 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 26. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 27.41 per 100,000 people.

There have been 6,828,461 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 21,535 confirmed cases (5,762 active, 15,265 resolved, 508 deaths).

There were 271 new cases Tuesday from 2,595 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. The rate of active cases is 420.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,159 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308.

There were nine new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 88 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.92 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.09 per 100,000 people.

There have been 382,486 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 12,432 confirmed cases (4,204 active, 8,130 resolved, 98 deaths).

There were 194 new cases Tuesday from 1,343 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. The rate of active cases is 357.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,835 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.

There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 8.34 per 100,000 people.

There have been 285,570 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 83,327 confirmed cases (20,649 active, 61,934 resolved, 744 deaths).

There were 1,341 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 472.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,299 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,614.

There were 11 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 104 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.02 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 43,463 confirmed cases (10,929 active, 31,866 resolved, 668 deaths).

There were 520 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 215.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,745 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 678.

There were 21 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 125 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.17 per 100,000 people.

There have been 866,132 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (one active, 57 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Tuesday from 50 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,773 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 22 confirmed cases (seven active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Tuesday from 143 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.70 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,508 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 258 confirmed cases (45 active, 213 resolved, zero deaths).

There were two new cases Tuesday from 81 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 116.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,033 tests completed.

Previously: Hospitals are being ordered by the Ontario government to quickly get ready for a surge of COVID-19 patients as admissions keep rising; Associate chief medical officer Dr. Barbara Yaffe facing scrutiny for quips made into a microphone in the minutes before a news conference began Monday; Federal government expands tax break to allow Canadians working from home due to the pandemic to claim up to $400.

Click here for yesterday’s coronavirus news.



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