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DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

8:40 p.m. ET

Four provinces report new records of daily case counts

Four provinces reported new highs for daily COVID-19 infections on Saturday as the virus continued its siege on some of the country’s most vulnerable areas.

Health officials in New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta all reported new single-day peaks in diagnoses, recording 23, 1,588, 439 and 1,336 new cases respectively, as the nation’s top doctor sounded the alarm yet again.

“More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long term care homes, congregate living settings and hospitals, and spreading in Indigenous communities,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a written statement.

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“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.”

Among those areas is the fly-in community of Fond du Lac First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, which was reporting 61 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday.

About 1,000 people call the remote community home, and a full 300 of them have been told to self-isolate.

– The Canadian Press

6:00 p.m. ET

Nunavut looking at how COVID-19 spread so quickly

It has been just over two weeks since Nunavut declared its first case of COVID-19, but it’s still unknown how 109 people were infected so quickly in the territory.

Nunavut is home to about 39,000 people. Its 25 fly-in only communities are spread over three time zones.

Arviat, on the western shore of Hudson Bay where about 2,800 people live, had 80 cases as of Saturday. Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, says it’s the only place where there’s evidence of transmission from household to household within the community.

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There are also 13 cases in nearby Rankin Inlet, 14 in Whale Cove and two in Sanikiluaq, although the territory reported on Saturday the Sanikiluaq cases had recovered. But those cases are all within the same households.

John Main, who represents Arviat-North and Whale Cove in Nunavut’s legislative assembly, says it’s “hard to see” how housing issues wouldn’t have contributed in some way to COVID-19′s rapid spread.

“It’s no secret that we’re in a housing crisis. We’ve had issues around housing for many, many years … Things like multiple generations of families living in one unit, people sleeping in areas that are not meant to be bedrooms,” Main says.

– The Canadian Press

4:15 p.m. ET

Today’s record number of cases is Saskatchewan “very concerning”: Moe

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says today’s record number of new COVID-19 cases is “very concerning.” Public health officials are reporting 439 new cases, but no additional deaths.

Moe says in a statement that Saskatchewan’s seven-day average for new cases is 203, which he says is the highest it’s ever been. He says while it’s too soon for measures implemented last week to have made an impact, the government continues to “evaluate the situation closely and will consider further steps.”

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– The Canadian Press

1:10 p.m. ET

New Brunswick sees biggest jump in cases, Nova Scotia a modest rise

COVID-19 cases are climbing in Canada’s Atlantic provinces, with New Brunswick reporting a record-breaking 23 new cases today.

During a press conference this afternoon, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said it was the highest number of cases announced in a single day since the pandemic was first declared in March.

Health officials say 16 of the new cases are in the Saint John region, six are in the Moncton region and one is in the Fredericton area. Both the Moncton and Saint John regions are under “orange” level public health restrictions under the province’s COVID-19 response plan.

Health authorities in Nova Scotia announced eight new cases of COVID-19 in that province, two of which are connected to previous cases.

Officials say the sources of the other six infections are under investigation. The province now has 33 active cases and as of Monday, residents of Halifax and parts of Hants County will be asked to limit their social gatherings to five people.

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Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases today, one of which is a resident of a retirement home in the town of Grand Bank. Officials say there is now a cluster of six cases in Grand Bank, and all are connected.

New Brunswick has 71 active cases, Nova Scotia has 33 active infections and Newfoundland and Labrador has 18.

– The Canadian Press

12:01 p.m. ET

Manitoba Premier defends coronavirus response

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is defending his government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to Progressive Conservative party members.

In a speech to the provincial party’s annual general meeting, held via online video, Pallister said all provinces west of New Brunswick are dealing with a surge of cases in the pandemic’s second wave.

Manitoba is reporting 385 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 new deaths linked to the virus over the past day.

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Most of the deaths involve people in their 60s or older and are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes or other health facilities, but the province says one was a man in his 30s in the Winnipeg region.

Manitoba currently has the highest per-capita rate of new infections in the country, and intensive care units are running close to capacity.

Health care unions have said the government failed to boost capacity in the summer in order to prepare for the second wave.

Pallister said his government is spending more on health care than the previous NDP administration.

He also said people have to follow public health orders, and pointed to new and increased fines the Tories have implemented for rule-breakers.

There are 276 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 45 of those in intensive care. So far, 217 people in Manitoba have died due to COVID-19.

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– The Canadian Press

11:32 a.m. ET

Quebec has 32 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,189 new cases

Quebec is reporting 1,189 new cases of COVID-19 today and 32 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Public health authorities say five of those deaths occurred within the past 24 hours, with the rest taking place at an earlier date. The Health Department says there are currently 646 people in hospital, an increase of 22 from the previous day.

Of those, 99 people are currently in intensive care, an increase of three from yesterday.

– The Canadian Press

Related: What Quebec’s COVID-19 experiment can teach us about the second wave

10:59 a.m. ET

Ontario reports record 1,588 new daily cases and 21 new deaths

Ontario’s COVID-19 case numbers hit a new single-day peak today as the province reported 1,588 new instances of the virus in the past 24 hours.

Government figures also show 21 new deaths linked to COVID-19 in that period.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 522 new cases in Peel Region, 450 in Toronto and 153 in York Region, with nearly 46,700 tests completed.

The province is also reporting that 513 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 87 on ventilators.

The latest figures bring the total of COVID-19 cases in Ontario to 102,378, with 3,472 deaths, and 86,079 cases resolved.

The new record comes as Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region will move into lockdown on Monday, under the toughest measures available in the province’s COVID-19 restriction system.

– The Canadian Press

10:22 a.m. ET

In blow to Trudeau, technical briefing fails to unite political rivals

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s effort to try and bring rivals onside to help communicate the dramatic implications of rising COVID-19 infections appears to have faltered.

While Trudeau stood in front of his home Friday and implored Canadians to stay in theirs, opposition leaders didn’t echo that message.

Trudeau had given them a briefing late Thursday on the new modelling data, which predicts new cases could hit upwards of 20,000 a day if Canadians don’t take greater care to limit their contact with people outside their households.

The rare briefing – which those inside the room described as technical, with chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam doing the talking – was intended to encourage cross-partisan unity on the subject.

Within minutes of the briefing, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole instead issued a scathing assessment of the soaring case numbers, laying the blame squarely on the Liberal government and its failure to approve rapid test kits, among other things.

Then Friday, O’Toole pivoted to campaign-style events held virtually. His office said he had nothing to say in response to Trudeau’s dramatic and lengthy plea to Canadians.

At a news conference Friday just as Trudeau was finished speaking, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the new projections are terrifying, and pointed to multiple failures within the system.

He said everyone backs the science that drives the public health measures and, in turn, there is cross-partisan support for that advice.

“But my job is to make sure that it’s followed, to make sure it’s actually in touch with what people are going through,” Singh said.

That means prodding the government to ensure there are adequate supports to ensure people can afford to follow public health advice. Otherwise, Singh said, the advice is “meaningless.”

– The Canadian Press

More coronavirus news and explainers

‘No one should die alone’: This woman gave 49 people a hand to hold in their final moments before dying of COVID-19

What Quebec’s COVID-19 experiment can teach us about the second wave

Toronto and Peel go to lockdown, retail goes to curbside-only

Which COVID-19 vaccines are coming to Canada, and when? How well do they work? Everything you need to know

Coronavirus commentary

Our governments have failed to protect us – and now we are paying the price

Saunders: The latest COVID-19 surge has tested countries with federal governments. Canada hasn’t passed

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