Today’s coronavirus news: Queen’s University postponing in-person exams due to rising cases; Ontario reports 1,476 cases and eight deaths; Austria ends lockdown restrictions for vaccinated people – Toronto Star

Sign In
Sign In
The Star Edition
This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, or inquire about permissions/licensing, please go to:
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 p.m.: As the coronavirus pandemic approaches the end of a second year, the United States stands on the cusp of surpassing 800,000 deaths from the virus, and no group has suffered more than older Americans. All along, older people have been known to be more vulnerable to having severe cases, but the scale of loss is only now coming into full view.
Seventy-five per cent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.
The starkness of the heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many. “You get kind of forgotten,’’ said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.”
Read the full story here: As U.S. nears 800,000 virus deaths, 1 of every 100 older Americans has perished
9:25 p.m.: An eastern Ontario university has postponed in-person exams due to rising COVID-19 case counts in the community.
Queen’s University says exams will be changed to an “alternative delivery format” if possible, and those that must be done in person will be postponed until the new year.
The school initially said students who were concerned about the local COVID-19 situation could choose to defer their exams.
But later Sunday, it announced it was delaying in-person exams and reducing capacity limits at the library and Athletics & Recreation Centres.
The changes come after the Kingston, Ont., school confirmed a virus outbreak in the student community, and after the local health unit announced a case of the Omicron variant not linked to travel.
Queen’s is advising students to avoid social gatherings and says it’s planning to distribute rapid COVID-19 test kits next week.
The university didn’t specify how many students are involved in the outbreak, but the Kingston public health unit listed four active outbreaks in Queen’s student residences as of Thursday.
8:30 p.m.: If you went inside the Scotiabank Arena children’s mass vaccination clinic Sunday, on your own or with a police escort, as some families did, you’d find a warm, welcoming environment designed to make kids feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said about the area immediately outside it. It was cordoned off with gates and police cruisers. Officers riding bicycles or horses whizzed and trotted along the border, trying to keep screaming protestors at bay.
Read the full story here: Mascots, stickers and balloons greeted 5- to 11-year-olds on Toronto’s Kids Vaccine Day
5:00 p.m.: New Brunswick is reporting 112 new cases of COVID-19, and 96 recoveries, as the pace of infections appears to be slowing from earlier in the week.
Public Health reported the active number of cases Sunday at 1,019, a rise of just 16 people since Saturday, with 14 people in intensive care and another 25 in hospital.
Of those in hospital, 22 are over the age of 60 and six people are on a ventilator.
Public Health says eight of the 39 people hospitalized were initially admitted for other reasons and contracted COVID-19 due to outbreaks at hospitals in Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi.
There are 56 new cases in the Fredericton area, 19 new cases in the Moncton region, 15 in Saint John, 10 in the Miramichi area, five in Edmundston region, three new cases in the Campbellton region and four in the Bathurst area,
3:35 p.m.: Students at an eastern Ontario university can choose to defer their exams if they are concerned about the local COVID-19 situation.
Queen’s University says the faculties of engineering and arts and science adjusted their policies after students raised concerns about attending exams.
Students who feel distressed about COVID-19 in the community have the option to not attend exams this term, with make-up exams offered “early in the winter term.”
The changes come after the Kingston, Ont., school confirmed a virus outbreak in the student community, and after the local health unit announced a case of the Omicron variant not linked to travel.
Queen’s is advising students to avoid social gatherings and says it’s planning to distribute rapid COVID-19 test kits next week.
The university didn’t specify how many students are involved in the outbreak, but the Kingston public health unit listed four active outbreaks in Queen’s student residences as of Thursday.
3:06 p.m.: The British government raised the country’s official coronavirus threat level on Sunday, warning the rapid spread of the Omicron variant had pushed the U.K. into risky territory, The Associated Press reports.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the emergence of the highly transmissible new strain “adds additional and rapidly increasing risk to the public and health care services” at a time when COVID-19 is already widespread. They recommended raising the alert level from 3 to 4 on a 5-point scale. The top level indicates authorities think the health-care system is about to be overwhelmed.
The doctors said early evidence shows Omicron is spreading much faster than the currently dominant Delta variant, and that vaccines offer less protection against it. British officials say Omicron is likely to replace Delta as the dominant strain in the U.K. within days.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to make a televised statement about Britain’s coronavirus situation and the booster vaccination campaign on Sunday evening.
1:38 p.m.: Across Pennsylvania, a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients has pushed hospitals to capacity, leading to long wait times in emergency rooms, and prompting some hospitals to delay elective care and limit hospital visitors.
Hospitalizations across the U.S. surged over the summer amid the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus before decreasing this fall. Now they have climbed back up again as the cold has set in and reached a daily average of more than 65,000 as of Saturday, according to federal data.
Upticks in hospitalizations have been particularly steep in the Midwest and the Northeast.
The strain on hospitals in Pennsylvania, however, has been exacerbated because many of them are now seeing a crush of patients seeking care for conditions other than COVID, said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, senior vice-president for medical and academic affairs for St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania.
“Last year, many people put their care off and did not get the appropriate care that they needed and have more advanced disease and are now suffering the consequences,” he said. The combination of those patients with increasing numbers of COVID patients “represent a major challenge to our hospital,” he added.
Some hospital administrators fear that the worst is yet to come, as people continue to gather for holidays and spend more time inside during the colder months.
1:22 p.m.: Nova Scotia is reporting 111 new cases of COVID-19 today, with most related to the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has said the Halifax cases are for the most part students infected in the Antigonish outbreak but who have home addresses in the provincial capital.
The public health agency says in a news release those infected are experiencing mild symptoms and the cases mostly involve young people who are fully vaccinated.
1:07 p.m.: Public Health in Prince Edward Island is announcing seven new cases of COVID-19, with five of them being close contacts of previously announced cases.
Two of the cases are related to travel outside of the province.
There are currently 37 active cases of COVID-19 in P.E.I. and there have been 420 cases since the pandemic began.
12:19 p.m.: The Reuters news agency was reporting Sunday that the United States had reached 800,000 coronavirus-related deaths, meaning the U.S. death toll from the virus now exceeds the population of North Dakota.
According to its analysis, since the start of the year over 450,000 people in America died after contracting COVID-19, or 57 per cent of all U.S. deaths from the illness since the pandemic started.
The deaths this year were mostly in unvaccinated patients.
Reuters’ analysis says it took 111 days for U.S. deaths to jump from 600,000 to 700,000, but the next 100,000 deaths took just 73 days.
11:57 a.m.: Quebec is reporting 1,753 new cases of COVID-19 today and one new death linked to the virus.
Health officials say COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by 11 from the day before to 262, while the number of patients in intensive care increased by five to 68.
The seven-day average for new cases is 1,621.
Of the new infections, 876 involved people who were either unvaccinated or who had received a first dose within the past two weeks.
Officials say about 87 per cent of Quebecers five and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 81 per cent have received two shots.
It also says five per cent of Quebecers have received their third, booster dose.
10:08 a.m.: Ontario is reporting additional 1,476 COVID-19 cases and eight deaths on Sunday.
In Ontario, 24,449,726 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.3 per cent of Ontarians aged 12+ have had one dose and 87.6 per cent have two doses.
Individuals who are not fully vaccinated represent 23.1 per cent of Ontario’s total population and amount to 612 of Ontario’s 1,476 new reported cases. Then, 93 cases are in individuals with an unknown vaccination status.
A total of 222 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 158 people are in the ICU due to the virus. Please note not all hospitals report on weekends.
Sunday 8:21 a.m.: Austria ended lockdown restrictions for vaccinated people across most of the country on Sunday, three weeks after reimposing strict rules to combat a rising wave of coronavirus infections.
The rules, which vary by region within the country, largely allow for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues on Sunday. Shops will follow on Monday.
Some regions are reopening restaurants and hotels on Sunday, while others will wait until later in the month. In all cases, there will be an 11 p.m. curfew for restaurants, and masks will still be required on public transportation and inside stores and public spaces.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer last week called the move an “opening with a seatbelt,” giving each of Austria’s nine regions the ability to loosen or tighten restrictions based on the local situation.
Unvaccinated people will still be subject to the lockdown restrictions and should remain at home for all but a handful of specific reasons, like buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising.
Read Saturday’s coronavirus news.

Anyone can read Conversations, but to contribute, you should be a registered Torstar account holder. If you do not yet have a Torstar account, you can create one now (it is free)
Sign In
Copyright owned or licensed by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or distribution of this content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited and/or its licensors. To order copies of Toronto Star articles, please go to:


Leave a Comment