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Canadian coronavirus evening update: Nearly 1,100 cases, 13 deaths – Victoria News

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Black Press Media is updating news stories throughout the day as the coronavirus crisis escalates. This file focuses on national news.

Here are the latest updates, as of 10 p.m., Friday, March 20, 2020:

  • Irregular migrants to be turned away at Canadian border
  • Air Canada lays off more than 5,000 flight attendants as airline cuts routes and parks planes
  • President of the Treasury Board of Ontario has COVID-19 symptoms, has been tested
  • People may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus in Whistler, B.C.
  • Former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott returns to the front line
  • Cirque du Soleil lays off 95 per cent of employees
  • Alberta records first COVID-19 death
  • B.C. records eighth death in province, also at Lynn Valley Care Centre
  • Federal government suspends passport services until further notice
  • Head of Saskatchewan Medical Association tests positive for COVID-19
  • Worldwide death toll from COVID-19 passes 10,000

Coronavirus cases approach 1,100 in Canada

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 12:22 EST a.m. on March 21, 2020:

There are 1,085 confimred and presumptive cases in Canada.

  • British Columbia: 348 confirmed (including 9 deaths, 5 resolved)
  • Ontario: 318 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 5 resolved)
  • Alberta: 195 confirmed (including 1 death)
  • Quebec: 139 confirmed (including 1 death, 1 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 8 confirmed, 18 presumptive
  • Manitoba: 17 confirmed
  • Nova Scotia: 5 confirmed, 10 presumptive
  • New Brunswick: 7 confirmed, 4 presumptive
  • Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: 10 confirmed
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3 confirmed, 1 presumptive
  • Prince Edward Island: 2 confirmed
  • The Territories: No confirmed cases
  • Total: 1,085 (33 presumptive, 1,052 confirmed including 13 deaths, 11 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2020.

Saskatchewan to supply limited funding to residents forced to self isolate

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is announcing stricter restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and money for those in self-isolation.

The government says it will give residents forced to self-isolate who aren’t covered by federal employment insurance programs $450 per week for a maximum of two weeks.

Moe says this program mostly applies to self-employed residents and will cost $10 million.

He also announced the ban on large gatherings will drop to no more than 25 people in one room except where two-metre social distancing can be maintained, and that bars and restaurants will be closing.

The government is also making it mandatory that people returning to Saskatchewan from foreign travel must self-isolate for 14 days and Moe says if they don’t they could be arrested or face fines.

Public health officials also announced six new presumptive cases of COVID-19.

The province has eight confirmed and 18 presumptive cases.

EI applications surge by 500,000 in just one week

Canadians have been trying to come to grips with a surreal new norm over the past week as the pandemic increasingly encroaches on every-day life. Businesses, schools and previously routine activities have been shutting down en masse as a growing number of people are forced into self-isolation or urged to practice social distancing to help “flatten the curve.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Service Canada and other government agencies have seen an exponential surge of calls for help in recent weeks, noting the government some logged 500,000 applications for employment insurance this past week, compared to 27,000 during the same period a year ago.

All Vancouver restaurants to close for dine-in service

All restaurants in Vancouver must be closed for dine-in service as of midnight.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the order will be enforced for restaurants that do not comply, starting with a notice that could escalate to prosecution if there is continued non-compliance.

Malcolm Bromley, general manager of Vancouver’s park board, said the department has also decided to close its playgrounds across the city.

The provincial government ordered bars and nightclubs to close earlier this week.

Sandra Singh, manager of arts, culture and community services for the city, said there is now a plan in place for the potential use of Vancouver’s community centres as shelters for homeless people.

Alberta: Province provides extra funding and staff for homeless shelters

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province will provide extra funding and staff to set up overflow homeless shelters and spots for those who have nowhere to go but need to self-isolate.

Kenney says the Expo convention centre in north Edmonton will be used as an overflow homeless location.

He says Calgary has also identified backup locations for homeless people.

The province has already promised $60 million for charitable and non-profit groups to support seniors and other vulnerable populations hit hard by COVID-19.

Coronavirus cases surge to 139 in Quebec

Quebec has seen the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise today to 139, up from 121 cases on Thursday.

One person has died in the province and one person has recovered, while 10 people are hospitalized.

Premier Francois Legault says the situation is still under control, and the province has put off elective surgeries and freed up 4,000 beds and is able to administer 6,000 tests per day.

Legault says it’s unlikely that school will resume this month and it’s possible it will be May before students are back in class.

Asylum seekers to be turned away

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says asylum seekers who attempt to enter Canada at irregular border crossings like the one at Roxham Road will be turned back — but not detained.

Blair says there will be no detention by Canadian or U.S. authorities for those returned to either country, except in rare cases involving serious criminality.

Freeland: Be patient as details are hammered out

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is asking Canadians for patience as the Liberal government hammers out the details of the major moves they are making to respond to the global pandemic of COVID-19.

She says officials are doing things that would normally take several months in a matter of days and that they are aiming for speed, rather than perfection.

She says that sometimes means making an announcement about the actions they are taking and then filling in the details after the fact.

Freeland says that is not how they would normally operate, but she hopes Canadians understand the extraordinary situation.

Top doctor cites travel restrictions

The consistent message from Canada’s top doctor is that Canadians need to avoid all non-essential travel.

And Dr. Theresa Tam repeated that message, without elaboration, when asked whether Canadian athletes should travel to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to open July 24.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu adds that with disruption in air travel and border restrictions around the world, the safest thing for Canadians to do right now is stay home.

Ottawa secures 11 million respirator masks

The federal government has been able to secure more than 11 million N95 respirator masks and delivery will begin immediately.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand says her department has been working closely with the federal public health agency to figure out which medical supplies are needed and where.

She says her department recently asked manufacturers across the country to let Ottawa know what they would be able to provide and more than 5,800 companies responded by offering various goods or services to combat COVID-19.

She says the goal is to be “over prepared,” especially since global demand will continue to climb and border restrictions could affect the supply chain.

Businesses asked to help in war on virus

Industry Minister Navdeep Bains is asking Canadian business to step up and tell the government what they can do to help fight COVID-19.

He says some businesses, like distilleries, have already made quick changes to start producing high-alcohol hand sanitizers.

More money is being sent to researchers, and to small companies that might have innovative products that could help with the pandemic but aren’t ready right now, such as diagnostic tools.

Bains says the full weight of the federal government is behind the plan.

Saskatchewan ramps up child-care spaces for health workers’ children

The Saskatchewan government is converting child-care spaces in schools into daycares for children of health-care workers responding to COVID-19.

It says priority will be given to school-age children of staff in hospitals, long-term care facilities, labs and those working at COVID-19 testing and assessment sites.

The sites are to be open Monday.

Borders to close at 11:49 EST

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says Canadians and Americans have drastically reduced their non-essential border crossings even before a closure of the Canada-U.S. frontier takes effect.

That formal closure takes effect at 11:59 Eastern Time tonight.

Blair adds that anyone crossing the Canadian border away from an official crossing point, including people crossing to claim asylum, will be redirected to the United States, with “necessary and limited exceptions.”

The restriction will only be in place for 30 days, but it’s subject to renewal if it’s still needed in a month.

Blair says people who have recently entered Canada to make refugee claims will be allowed to do so but will be kept in isolation for 14 days.

Here’s the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3 p.m. on March 20, 2020:

There are 943 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

  • Ontario: 308 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 5 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 271 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 5 resolved)
  • Alberta: 146 confirmed (including 1 death)
  • Quebec: 139 confirmed (including 1 death, 1 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 8 confirmed, 12 presumptive
  • Manitoba: 9 confirmed, 8 presumptive
  • Nova Scotia: 5 confirmed, 10 presumptive
  • New Brunswick: 2 confirmed, 9 presumptive
  • Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: 10 confirmed
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3 confirmed, 1 presumptive
  • Prince Edward Island: 2 confirmed
  • The Territories: No confirmed cases
  • Total: 943 (40 presumptive, 903 confirmed including 12 deaths, 11 resolved)

Manitoba the latest province to declare state of emergency

Manitoba has declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Premier Brian Pallister says it was not an easy decision but it was necessary to protect the health and safety of all Manitobans.

The measures will limit pubic gatherings of more than 50 people, including at places of worship, restaurants and bars.

Pallister says Manitobans have been practicing social distancing.

As of Thursday, there were 17 cases of the virus in the province.

Walmart plans massive hiring spree during crisis

Walmart Canada says it will hire 10,000 more employees to work in its stores and distribution centres as it deals with issues related to COVID-19.

The company announced the jobs in a letter sent to customers by Walmart Canada CEO Horacio Barbeito, but did not provide details on where the jobs would be or whether they would be temporary.

The letter says Walmart is also accelerating its annual bonus payments given to its store associates and is doling out live online physician care to its more than 90,000 employees.

Walmart also says it’s experiencing high demand for pickup and delivery and has decided to now allow home grocery deliveries to be left at a customer’s door to minimize contact.

Manufacturers ramp up COVID-19 response

The government is working with manufacturers to retool and produce equipment needed to treat people for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says industry has volunteered its workers and factories and arrangements are well underway.

Ontario: Largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases

Ontario is reporting 50 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total in the province to 308.

That is the largest single-day increase in new cases.

The total includes five resolved cases and two deaths.

No information is listed for about half of the new cases, but two people are listed as being hospitalized and four are in a long-term care home in the Durham Region.

Deman for cannabis spikes during crisis

Provincial cannabis distributors across the country are making changes to protect consumers and employees and to help deal with a spike in demand during COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ontario Cannabis Store says it has suspended same-day and next-day deliveries because of a “higher-than-normal” volume of orders.

The OCS, the Quebec pot distributor Societe quebecoise du cannabis and B.C. Cannabis Stores also warn that Canada Post is no longer delivering parcels that require a signature or proof-of-age to customer doors.

Yukon politicians work overnight to pass budget

Urgency related to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted politicians in Yukon to work into the night to pass the territory’s latest budget.

After voting unanimously to bring the Liberal government’s 1.6-billion dollar budget forward for early consideration, it was debated and passed shortly before 11 p.m.

The legislature, which resumed March 5, has now been adjourned until October 1.

Premier Sandy Silver says passage of the budget means Yukon can focus all resources on fighting COVID-19 and provide spending assurances for the medical community, health, social services and the economy.

Canadian dies in Japan from virus

A Canadian has died in Japan from complications related to COVID-19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne confirmed the news on Twitter and shared his condolences with the family of the as yet unnamed Canadian.

The federal government is providing consular assistance to the deceased’s family.

Plexiglas shields for Sobeys cashiers

Sobeys grocery stores are taking further steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among customers and staff.

The company began installing Plexiglas shields for cashiers in select stores last night and plan to have them in every store as quickly as possible.

Sobeys is also mandating that employees wash their hands every 15 minutes and will reduce store hours to allow more time for sanitizing.

Foreign Affairs Minister tests negative for virus

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne has tested negative for COVID-19.

He made the announcement this morning on Twitter.

Champagne had flu-like symptoms after travelling abroad and took the test yesterday as a precautionary measure.

City of Toronto announces payment holiday

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced a 60-day grace period for all city payments from residents and businesses.

The policy includes property tax, water and solid waste utility payments.

Tory said the move is meant to alleviate stress on people and business owners during the economic difficulties of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Irregular migrants to be turned away at Canadian border

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says irregular migrants will be turned away back to the United States when they reach the Canadian border.

He says it’s part of an agreement with the U.S.

The move addresses concerns about the difficulty of screening refugee claimants for COVID-19 when they arrive.

5,000 layoffs at Air Canada

A union official says Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as the country’s largest airline cuts routes and parks planes due to COVID-19.

Wesley Lesosky, who heads the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), says the carrier is laying off about 3,600 mainline employees as well as all of Air Canada Rouge’s 1,549 flight attendants.

The layoffs, which Lesosky says will take effect by April, affect roughly 60 per cent of flight attendants at the two segments.

Air Canada says the layoffs are temporary and employees will be returned to active duty status when the airline is able to ramp up its network schedule.

The Montreal-based company said Wednesday it will suspend the majority of its international and U.S. flights by March 31.

Feds boost medical equipment supply

The federal government is expected to announce today additional efforts to secure supplies of needed medical equipment to cope with the rapidly multiplying cases of COVID-19 across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted at new measures to come, including involving industry and the military in the production of ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear.

He said the federal government is also expediting access to test kits to determine whether individuals have been infected with the novel coronavirus and other medical devices.

Ottawa has been working in close collaboration with provinces and territories, who deliver health care, to determine where gaps exist in the system and to try to fill them before they become a significant problem.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says there has been no specific request for ventilators yet but the federal government is trying to pre-empt that by acquiring things that may be needed as the number of cases surge.

The cabinet committee on COVID-19 was to have been briefed about procurement of supplies by Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Vancouver firefighters to limit responses to medical calls

First responders across the country say they’re putting measures in place to preserve their capacity to deal with emergencies as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

In Vancouver, Fire Chief Darrell Reid says the department is preparing to stop responding to medical calls unless they are urgent.

He says triaging calls will help preserve the fire department’s capacity to respond to major fires and other emergencies.

In Halifax, Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum says dispatchers are not sending firefighters to COVID-19 calls.

While they typically go out in teams of four, he says only two firefighters will work on a patient in the case of a medical call now.

And he says firefighters are equipped with protective gear and a screening tool kit to help them identify potential COVID-19 cases.

The RCMP says the novel coronavirus has not affected how police respond to emergencies. However, some detachments are closing counter service and other activities in their offices, in consultation with local authorities.

Around the world

California’s governor ordered people in the most populous U.S. state to stay home as the coronavirus pandemic’s toll worsened so much world leaders warned of “record” economic pain.

Iran accused the United States of helping spread the virus by retaining sanctions that prevent it importing desperately needed medicine and medical equipment. Iran’s 1,200 deaths are exceeded only by those in Italy and China, and fears remain that it is underreporting the scale of its outbreak.

Iran’s U.N. Mission said the sanctions, imposed over the country’s nuclear program, were making it virtually impossible for Iran to import what it needed to fight the virus.

“In other words, while the U.S. is trying to curb the virus internally, it is helping the spread of the virus externally,” it said in a statement.

Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 10,000 and infections exceeded 244,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

More than 86,000 people have recovered, mostly in China, but the pace is much slower than the spread of the virus. Recovery takes two weeks or so for mild cases but can be up to six weeks for those that turn serious, according to the World Health Organization.

The developments came as nations impose ever-stricter border controls and lockdowns to keep people at home and keep away outsiders, hoping to slow the spread of the virus while preparing for an onslaught of sick patients. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a looming global recession “perhaps of record dimensions.”

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that if strong action wasn’t taken, 56% of the state’s 40 million residents could contract the virus over the next eight weeks. He expanded restrictions on non-essential movement outside of homes, saying it was necessary to control the spread of the virus, which was threatening to overwhelm California’s medical system.

Similar restrictions are in place in virus hotspots like Italy, Spain and central China.

Canadians face financial uncertainty

When it comes to her family’s financial future, Kim Petrie says the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has erased any certainty about what lies ahead.

Over just a few days, the Hamilton resident watched significant changes ripple through her household of five.

Her three children — ages 17, 20 and 22 — live at home, but each lost their job in the restaurant industry on Monday. Now Petrie wonders if her casual part-time role as a mortgage specialist’s assistant could also be in question if the economy buckles. That would leave her family to lean on her husband’s commission-based paycheque in a market that’s caught in the grip of fear and uncertainty.

Other hurdles lie ahead for her family too, since her daughter was planning to work through the summer to save money for university in September. Her attention has shifted to applying for unemployment in the short term.

“At the moment, we’re feeling a little bit numb,” Petrie said.

“It’s almost like somebody’s going to come (from) behind a screen and say, ‘Oh, nothing ever happened and we’re back to reality.’ But we know that’s not the case.”

Like most Canadians, Petrie’s life has been upended by COVID-19, and she’s hoping an $82-billion stimulus package unveiled by the federal government may soften the blow.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau outlined rough details on Wednesday of a plan that would introduce wage subsidies for small businesses, laid off employees who don’t normally qualify for employment insurance, and families with child care expenses.

But exactly how the benefits will be rolled out is still unclear and the clock is ticking for many Canadians who feel they’ll need support if the fallout of COVID-19 drags on for months.

Should I keep away from others while walking?

Walking has been a welcome relief for people feeling cooped up in these unprecedented times of social distancing, but even this ordinary activity raises questions about what’s appropriate when approaching fellow pedestrians.

Exercise and fresh air are important for both physical and mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak — but so is following some key guidelines, advises Corinne Hart, associate professor of Ryerson University’s Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing.

Maintaining six feet of space is at the top of her list.

And while dog parks are a popular place to hang out — they’ve been as busy as ever this week as people flock outdoors — Hart said it’s better to stay away from them. Congregating anywhere isn’t a good idea, and dogs are unpredictable.

Hart, who teaches community health nursing and practice at Ryerson, also cautions against walks for people in self-isolation. While people in isolation surely crave the outdoors more than anyone, self-isolating means halting all contact with others. Leaving the house presents too many risks.

But for those not in self-isolation, outdoor exercise is recommended. And biking and running don’t pose any more of a risk than walking, as long as they’re not done in close contact with others.

Ontario researchers work on vaccine

A team of Western University researchers has begun work on creating a vaccine for the devastating novel coronavirus.

University officials say experts in virology, microbiology, vaccinology, bioinformatics and immunology have united in a bid to develop and test a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

They also hope to create a “vaccine bank” of several ready-made vaccines that could be used if another strain sparks a new coronavirus outbreak.

The team is building off of work begun by Chil-Yong Kang, a professor emeritus at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry who has been working on a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

MERS is caused by a class of coronavirus similar to the virus that causes COVID-19.

The work is backed by $998,840 in funding announced Thursday from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is one of 96 projects funded across the country.

“MERS-CoV is highly related to this new virus, so it is possible to adapt that vaccine strategy quite rapidly for SARS-CoV-2,” Eric Arts, a professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, said in a release.

“With the technology we have today, we can also introduce all the genetic diversity that exists for these coronaviruses in bats and other species, and create thousands of ‘seed’ vaccines.”

Scientists hope that the next time an outbreak occurs, it would be possible to identify which strain is circulating early on and immediately start producing a vaccine from the vaccine bank.

No evidence ibuprofen makes COVID-19 worse: experts

Canadian health officials are trying to calm fears that anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can worsen COVID-19 symptoms by stressing the lack of concrete evidence.

Debate over whether ibuprofen products such as Advil should be bypassed for acetaminophen medications including Tylenol continues to rage among many people confused by conflicting reports spreading online.

Alberta’s medical health office offered assurances Thursday on Twitter, stating “there is no strong evidence to indicate that ibuprofen could worsen COVID-19 symptoms beyond the usual known side effects.”

“Until more information is available, people may wish to take paracetamol/acetaminophen to treat COVID-19 symptoms, unless advised otherwise by their doctor,” said the account, run by public health staff on behalf of chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

The executive vice president and chief pharmacy officer of Ontario Pharmacists Association also said Thursday there was not enough evidence to avoid the common painkiller but nevertheless suggested concerned patients use acetaminophen instead.

“It’s sometimes good to err on the side of caution because we can’t disapprove what that statement was,” said Allan Malek, referring to a weekend tweet from France’s health ministry that sparked the controversy.

“Because there is another alternative — acetaminophen, which are the Tylenol-based products — that would be a good alternative in terms of treating fever and pain that may come along with positive symptoms of COVID-19.”

Controversy over ibuprofen arose last weekend when France’s health minister tweeted that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — a category of drugs known as NSAIDs including ibuprofen — could be an aggravating factor for COVID-19 patients.

Drug safety researcher Mahyar Etminan traced the confusion back to a letter in a medical journal that hypothesized ibuprofen should not be used, and anecdotal evidence in France that suggested COVID-19 patients who took ibuprofen did poorly.

The files below were written on March 19, 2020

Updated at 1600 March 19.

Death toll in B.C. increases to eight dead

VANCOUVER — British Columbia has recorded an eighth death from COVID-19 as the number of infected cases has climbed to 271.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the latest death is a man who was a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where six others have died.

The province has recorded 40 new cases.

Henry says B.C. now has 271 cases of COVID-19, with the majority being in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.

She is urging people to maintain social distancing to fight the novel coronavirus, but adds they can step outside for fresh air while maintaining their distance from others.

Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced that the province is waiving waiting periods for people who have applied for medical service plan insurance including those who are returning from infected areas in other countries.

British Columbia has declared both a provincial state of emergency and a public health emergency because of COVID-19.

Vancouver city council followed the province with its own local state of emergency today.

The city says the declaration allows staff to take additional measures in the battle against the virus including giving the city priority in acquiring clothing, equipment or medical supplies to cope with the pandemic.

Foreign Minister self isolates due to flu symptoms

TORONTO — Canada’s foreign minister is being tested for the coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms after travelling.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter he is self-isolating at home for 14 days and says he expects the results of his test very shortly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already self-isolating at his residence after his wife tested positive following a trip to London.

Champagne says he will continue to work to support Canadians facing difficulties abroad and to help co-ordinate the international response to the crisis.

Canada’s top doctor: Don’t flatten the curve, ‘Plank it!’

OTTAWA — Canada’s top doctor says it might be months until we know whether social distancing measures being employed across the country are slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Canada has seen a “concerning” daily in the number of cases of COVID-19 across the country. The latest federal count is 800 cases and 10 deaths, and Alberta recorded an additional death after that tally.

But the numbers of newly confirmed cases released daily reflect people who were tested days ago, and they would have spent several days with the virus that causes COVID-19 before developing symptoms.

“I always tell people it’s a bit like the light from a star,” said chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam in a Thursday news conference.

“What you’re seeing reported today is something that actually happened a while back.”

Across the country people have taken drastic measures to limit their contact with others and keep the virus from spreading.

Some provinces have even mandated the closure of certain businesses to make sure people don’t gather in large groups.

It’s all in an effort to make sure there isn’t a sudden sharp increase in the number of cases, so that the spread of the virus is slowed over time. Public health experts call it “flattening the curve.”

“What I would like to see, and I’ll be watching very closely in the next two weeks or so, what actually happens to that curve,” Tam said.

Most cases of the virus in Canada have been mild, and found in people of working age. But it can be far more serious for older people or people with underlying health conditions.

So far the demographics of people who have contracted COVID-19 matches what other countries are seeing as well.

Today Tam called for Canadians to not flatten the curve but “plank it.”

In China and South Korea, which saw major outbreaks before Canada, it took about two and a half months to get the situation under control, Tam said.

Ideally, she said, Canada will never reach the point others did.

“I’ll see how Canadians do in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Prairies: Doctors’ bonspiel puts physicians at risk

REGINA — An investigation is underway in at least two provinces after a Saskatchewan doctor who attended a curling bonspiel in Edmonton tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Allan Woo, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, said in a letter to members that he tested positive for the virus on Wednesday night.

“I attended a curling bonspiel held March 11-14 in Edmonton,” he said in the letter Thursday. “This bonspiel is an annual event that usually attracts 50-60 physicians from Western Canada.

“I believe I contracted the COVID-19 virus at this bonspiel.”

Woo is one of four new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, bringing the total in the province to 20.

The Ministry of Health said three of the new infections are related to travel, with the other being a close contact of a previously reported case.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said all of the participants have been alerted about the positive tests, meaning they will be required to be in self-isolation until further details are known.

Doctors Manitoba said in an emailed statement that the organization is aware of three doctors from Manitoba who participated in the bonspiel.

Workers sent home from northern mine

Quebec mining company Agnico Eagle has decided to send home its Nunavut-based work force from the two gold mines it operates in south central Nunavut.

All local workers on site will be returned home and those off-site will not return.

These employees will continue to be paid.

The move is being made to eliminate the possibility of Nunavut workers being infected by those flying in from the south.

As yet, Nunavut has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The mines will continue to operate with remaining staff.

Passport services suspended

The federal government is suspending its passport services until further notice.

Canadians will only be able to obtain or renew passports if they need to travel for urgent reasons.

This includes serious illness, the death of friend or family member, humanitarian work or would otherwise lose a job or business.

Service Canada says anyone who does not meet the criteria for urgent travel — or is experiencing symptoms such as a fever, coughing, having trouble breathing — will have to wait.

So would anyone who is in self-isolation.

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen says that with travel restrictions in place, Service Canada needs to focus on assisting Canadians with issues that are currently the most critical.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world March 30 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Canadian businesses and non-profit organizations that see a drop of at least 30 per cent in revenue due to COVID-19 will qualify for the government’s 75 per cent wage subsidy program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

The number of employees will not be a factor in eligibility for the subsidy, Trudeau said at his daily media briefing outside his Rideau Cottage residence. 

That reassurance came after Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, urged Canadians over the weekend to “stay strong” and not let up on measures like physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, saying it will be a critical week in the fight against COVID-19’s spread.

In eastern Ontario, meanwhile, nine residents of a long-term care facility have died of COVID-19 complications since early last week, and the facility’s medical director said Monday they are all believed to be linked to the virus.

CBC Toronto previously reported that nearly three dozen staff members at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., have experienced COVID-19 symptoms.

The Pinecrest nursing home is seen in Bobcaygeon, Ont., on Monday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Across Canada, a domestic travel ban for those showing symptoms went into effect at noon ET Monday.

Abroad, the federal government says it has arranged for Canadians to fly home from several countries, including Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti. It has also arranged flights for Canadians in Sudan, Ghana and Cameroon, who will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday to catch an overnight flight to Toronto.

Global Affairs Canada says more Canadians will come home from Spain, Ecuador, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Hungary and Senegal in the coming days.

On Monday evening, Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal tweeted that Canada has also arranged flights for Canadians in India and Pakistan.

At sea, a cruise ship carrying nearly 250 Canadians is on the move after being stranded off the coast of Panama.

The MS Zaandam has passed through the Panama Canal after being anchored on its west side with four dead and nearly 200 passengers and crew showing flu-like symptoms. Holland America says several people onboard have tested positive for the coronavirus. It has been joined, and is being assisted, by its sister ship the Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week. The company says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.

‘In the eye of a storm’

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late 2019. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms. Health officials have said older people and those with underlying health issues are most at risk of severe disease and death, but they caution that younger people can also develop serious illness.

The pandemic has countries scrambling to contain the spread of the virus and quickly scale up health systems struggling with a shortage of protective gear. Governments are also trying to tackle the economic fallout that has accompanied the pandemic as many businesses cut jobs, scale back operations or close.

As countries adopt measures such as physical distancing, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to ensure that the needs of vulnerable people were met — including food, sanitation and other essential services.  

“In implementing these measures, it’s vital to respect the dignity and welfare of all people,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, during Monday’s daily coronavirus news briefing. 

WATCH l WHO chief says ‘humility and kindness’ vital in fight against COVID-19:

While stressing the importance of scientific and public health tools, WHO also called for humility and kindness in the fight against the coronavirus. 2:00

Tedros said he was encouraged by the efforts of G20 countries to work together “to improve the production and equitable supply of essential products.” 

“In the eye of a storm like COVID, scientific and public health tools are essential, but so are humility and kindness.

“With solidarity, humility and assuming the best of each other, we can — and we will — overcome this together,” Tedros said. 

Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and some other hard-hit areas.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

Canada’s provinces and territories reported more than 7,400 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases — of which more than 1,100 cases have been listed as recovered or resolved — though public health officials have cautioned that those numbers don’t capture the full picture. That’s because there are people who haven’t been tested, people who are still being investigated as possible cases, and people who are awaiting test results.  

There have been 92 COVID-19 deaths reported in Canada, plus another two COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil.

WATCH l Numbers will rise, but extent of increase unclear:

Officials are watching to see if physical distancing has had any effect on the pace of infections, says Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto. 5:55

For a more detailed look at what’s happening in Canada, including detail on the limitations of relying on recorded cases, visit CBC’s interactive case tracker.

In Ontario, the government on Monday evening extended the state of emergency by two weeks, maintaining the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. It also added an order to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.  

CBC Toronto obtained copies of COVID-19 reports issued daily by Critical Care Services Ontario, a branch of the province’s Ministry of Health. The latest report, from Saturday, shows 92 patients in critical-care wards have tested positive for COVID-19, while another 342 ICU patients are considered “suspected” cases.  This means confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases now account for roughly one out of every four patients currently in Ontario’s intensive care units — the first crucial medical resource to be overwhelmed by the spread of the virus in Italy, Spain and New York City. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Health-care workers see a patient in their vehicle at a COVID-19 drive-thru assessment centre at a hospital in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Quebec is reporting another spike in cases — there were 590 new positive cases announced on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 3,430. The province said Monday three more people have died from the virus, bringing that total to 25.

Premier François Legault says the brightest stat of the day was that 78 people were in intensive care, an increase of just six cases. Legault says that, to give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including stepped-up enforcement of public health orders in Montreal.

People practise physical distancing while waiting in line outside a store in Montreal on Monday. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded its first death due to the novel coronavirus. The patient — a retired man in the Eastern Health region — died Sunday, about three days after being hospitalized. Read more about what’s happening in the province.

Following two years of catastrophic flooding, COVID-19 border closures and physical distancing rules are the latest threats to New Brunswick farmers. Questions over how foreign workers will enter Canada and how long they will have to self-isolate are especially worrying, while the president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick is asking for the entire food-supply chain to be declared an essential service in order to protect the industry. Read more about what’s happening in N.B. 

WATCH | Canadian woman describes what it’s like to have COVID-19:

Montreal’s Melanie Fournier has COVID-19 and says anyone who thinks the virus is overblown should take it very seriously: ‘This is not what you think it is.’ 10:01

Prince Edward Island’s businesses and health resources are being forced to adapt as COVID-19 changes islanders’ needs and buying habits. Internet providers are reporting an uptick in demand, mental health and addictions support have moved online and rural grocery stores are experiencing significantly higher volumes as people attempt to shop local. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I.

British Columbia’s health officer says the province is at a critical period in the pandemic. “We are not through the storm yet,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Henry says the next two weeks mark a second incubation period for the disease as is urging people to follow public health advice because the number of cases hasn’t peaked yet. She says there are also 13 long-term care homes or assisted-living facilities with outbreaks, all in the Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

A sign promoting physical distancing is seen outside the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., on Monday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In Alberta, some people applying for a provincial one-time funding program meant to tide them over until federal supports are in place are having problems with the process. “It’s absolutely frustrating and I really do need it,” said one self-employed worker who is trying to access the Emergency Isolation Support program. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, which recorded its third COVID-19-related death over the weekend.

Saskatchewan has also recorded its first deaths related to COVID-19. The Ministry of Health announced two patients in their 70s died from complications related to the virus. It says they died in hospital in different parts of the province, and one was travel-related. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

A sign urging people to practise physical distancing is seen at Wascana Park in Regina on Monday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Nova Scotia confirmed its first case of community transmission on Monday. The province reported five new cases, bringing its total to 127 infections. It comes after Premier Stephen McNeil said over the weekend that the province will “escalate” their response to people breaking self-isolation rules. McNeil directed law enforcement to shift from education to enforcement, while Halifax Regional Police issued their first ticket under the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Act on the same day. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

In Canada’s North, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health says there is one new case of COVID-19 connected to a cluster investigation on Saturday; the N.W.T government says it will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies needed to head out to fishing and hunting camps as an alternative to physical distancing; and Nunavut announced a $5,000 relief grant for small businesses. Read more about what’s happening in the North.

Manitoba is shutting down all non-critical services as of April 1. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, made the announcement on Monday, closing any place that serves food for dine-in service, as well as bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices. Grocery stores will still remain open. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | Winnipeg ER doctor comes out of retirement to fight COVID-19:

Winnipeg ER doctor comes out of retirement to help in the fight against the coronavirus. 2:52

Here’s what’s happening in the United States

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

With more than 140,000 people infected, the United States has the most recorded cases of the coronavirus of any country in the world, followed by Italy and Spain. 

New York state has been especially hard hit and Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday as the number of deaths in the state climbed past 1,200.

New York City hospitals have been overrun with patients. To ease the pressure, construction of a 68-bed field hospital began on Sunday in the city’s iconic Central Park. The white tents evoked a wartime feel in an island of green typically used by New Yorkers to exercise, picnic and enjoy the first signs of spring.

WATCH | New York’s Central Park becomes COVID-19 field hospital:

Sixty-eight bed tent city built to accommodate hospital ICU overflows. 1:02

The makeshift facility, provided by Mount Sinai Health System and non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse, is expected to be ready to accept patients on Tuesday but will not take walk-ins, and admissions and transfers will be managed by Mount Sinai, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor, who is among a growing chorus of officials voicing frustration at U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of the crisis, said the death toll in his city would rise soon if Washington did not provide more medical supplies and assistance.

Trump, who just last week said he hoped the country would be “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, changed course on Sunday and announced that the physical distancing guidelines would be in place until at least April 30.

Beds set up in preparation for a potential COVID-19 surge are seen at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on Monday. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said the decision to extend the federal guidelines — which advise against social gatherings and urge people at higher risk of developing severe illness to stay home — was a “wise and prudent” move, given the projections for case numbers if mitigation efforts aren’t strong enough. 

Among those dying from coronavirus complications in the U.S. were musicians Joe Diffie, a country star in the 1990s, and Alan Merrill, who co-wrote the smash Joan Jett made famous, I Love Rock ‘N Roll.

Acclaimed singer-songwriter John Prine was said to now be in stable condition on Monday, after his family had previously announced he was critically ill with symptoms.

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 5 p.m. ET

Italy reported its total number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 100,000, reaching 101,739 on Monday. The country has also registered more COVID-19-related deaths than anywhere else in the world, with 11,591 people killed, accounting for about one-third of the global death toll.

Spain’s total number of coronavirus cases rose to 85,195 on Monday, as the infections surpassed those reported in China, at 81,470, according to the latest data. Some 12,298 Spanish health workers have tested positive, deputy health emergency chief Maria Jose Sierra said. The death toll from the virus in Spain rose to 7,340 on Monday from 6,528 on Sunday, the health ministry said.

Spain and Italy account for more than half of the known 34,800 deaths worldwide from the disease.

Soldiers mount a tent to be used by hospital patients during the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid on Monday. (Bernat Armangue/The Associated Press)

On Monday, the WHO’s emergencies director expressed “fervent hope” that coronavirus cases in those countries are “potentially stabilizing” due to restrictions and lockdowns over the past two weeks, but emphasized it’s no time to let up on tough measures to limit and track the spread of the virus.

“We have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself,” Dr. Mike Ryan told reporters.

Ryan said case-counting in an epidemic reflects the reality of transmission for at least the previous two weeks.

“The cases you see today are almost like a historical, in the same way when we’re told that we’re looking at galaxies through a telescope, that we’re seeing light from a billion years ago,” he said.

People line outside of a shop in Barcelona on Monday. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

Hungary’s parliament on Monday approved a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government extraordinary powers during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill was approved by Orban’s Fidesz party and other government supporters, but is being criticized by opposition parties, international institutions and civic groups for failing to include an expiration date for the government’s ability to rule by decree.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is warning in a letter to 30 million households that things will get worse before they get better, as he self-isolates in Downing Street to recover from the coronavirus. Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is the latest senior government figure to show symptoms of the coronavirus, which are described as mild. Britain has reported 17,089 confirmed cases of the disease and 1,019 deaths and the peak of the epidemic in the country is expected to come in a few weeks. 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Prince Charles, 71, says the Prince of Wales is in good health and out of self-isolation after consulting with his doctor.

Graffiti calling for people to wash their hands to combat the spread of the coronavirus is seen in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Monday. (Peter Morrison/The Associated Press)

In France, army helicopters transported COVID-19 patients fighting for their lives from the eastern part of the country to hospitals in Germany and Switzerland as French authorities battle to free up space in life-support units. The Grand Est region was the first in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections that has rapidly moved west to engulf the greater Paris region, where hospitals are desperately adding intensive care beds to cope with the influx.

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has risen to 57,298 and 455 people have died of the disease. Cases rose by 4,751, compared with the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 66.

Here’s what’s happening in the rest of the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

China is now easing the last of the controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes while they sought to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of China’s restrictions, some 700 million people were in areas covered by orders or official requests to stay home and limit activity.

The focus of China’s prevention measures has shifted to overseas arrivals, with virtually all foreigners barred from entering the country starting Saturday.

Shopkeepers in Wuhan — the city where the outbreak began — were reopening Monday, but customers were scarce.

In order to enter places like malls and subways, people need to show they are healthy by scanning a special health certificate obtained via a QR code.

Workers wearing protective suits check health QR codes at the entrance of a re-opened shopping mall in Wuhan on Monday. (Fei Maohua/Xinhua via The Associated Press)

In Brazil, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta is urging Brazilians to maintain maximum physical distancing to help ease the strain of COVID-19 on the health system, directly opposing President Jair Bolsonaro’s downplaying of the pandemic. 

Bolsonaro has defied calls from health officials trying to prevent gatherings that might spread the coronavirus, downplayed the risks — calling it a “little flu” that largely threatens the elderly and most vulnerable — and insisted Brazil’s economy must keep running. 

On Monday, he said that no more quarantine measures can be imposed than those already in place because jobs are being destroyed and the poor are suffering. Bolsonaro repeated his view that there is a large degree of “hysteria” around the pandemic, and said Economy Minister Paulo Guedes told him measures taken to combat the crisis could cost 800 billion reais ($218 billion Cdn) and that the economy could recover within a year.

In contrast, Mandetta said that as long as he is in his post, he will take a scientific and technical approach to his work.

WATCH | Brazil NGO delivering food in Rio’s favelas:

Brazilian NGO beseeches the government to increase provisions to the poor during the COVID-19 outbreak. 1:43

In India, a lockdown covering the country’s 1.3 billion people has put untold numbers out of work and left many families struggling to feed themselves. Tens of thousands in New Delhi were forced to flee their homes, with no way to pay the rent, journeying back to their native villages. Women in saris held babies on their hips. Others toted their belongings in bags normally used for cement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized for the hardships but said, “These tough measures were needed to win this battle.”

Iranian state-run media say prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot. It’s the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.

Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties. Iran has reported more than 38,000 infections and 2,640 deaths from COVID-19.

People wearing protective clothing carry the body of a victim who died from COVID-19 at a cemetery just outside Tehran on Monday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/The Associated Press)

Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, is warning that the 10 cases and one death confirmed in Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg.”

He said “all efforts to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 are impeded by Syria’s fragile health system,” noting only around half of the country’s hospitals and primary health-care facilities were fully functional at the end of 2019.

Those efforts are further impeded by high levels of population movement, challenges to obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment and ventilators, and difficulties of isolating in crowded camps for the displaced with “low levels of sanitation services,” he said.

In Israel, the prime minister’s office said Benjamin Netanyahu will go into quarantine after his adviser for parliamentary affairs, Rivka Paluch, tested positive. More than 4,300 Israelis have been infected with the virus and 15 have died.

A worker disinfects the doors of the closed Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday. (Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday he planned stricter rules on mobility and physical distancing as a study presented to the government warned of a risk of more than 140,000 coronavirus deaths by May without tougher action.

Medical experts have said the world’s fourth-most populous country must impose tighter movement restrictions as known cases of the highly infectious respiratory illness have gone from zero in early March to 1,414, with 122 deaths, nearly half of the 250 deaths reported from across Southeast Asia.

Finally, Olympic organizers wasted no time in announcing a new date for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed last week after countries like Canada said they would not participate due to the coronavirus risk. The targeted date is now July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.

WATCH | IOC decides on new Olympic dates for next summer:

The International Olympic Committee announced Tokyo 2020 will be held in the summer of 2021, from July 23 to August 8. 2:48

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Comparing coronavirus responses: What did Canada and the U.S. do differently? – Global News

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The United States has quickly become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 2,500 Americans have lost their lives due to the illness since the pandemic broke out, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 143,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday night, more than China or Italy.

Simply by virtue of its size — the U.S. has 8.7 times as many people as Canada — the country was all but destined to have many more cases than Canada.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus death toll in New York state surpasses 1,000 just weeks after 1st case

But the outbreak has gone far beyond that.

COVID-19 has brought the hardest-hit state of New York to a standstill. More than 1,000 people have died. Despite having a little over half the Canadian population, New York has more than 59,500 cases.

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That’s more than nine times as many as Canada, which has about 7,405 confirmed cases, including 74 deaths.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said worst-case scenario projections show New York would require 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators in order to handle the peak of the outbreak.






1:33
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says deaths from COVID-19 in New York could be in the thousands


Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says deaths from COVID-19 in New York could be in the thousands

What went wrong in the U.S. — and what was different in Canada?

While there have been widespread concerns about the availability of coronavirus testing in both countries, U.S. officials have faced sharp criticism for not making tests widely available until far too long after the virus arrived from China early this year.

A report in the New York Times concluded the failure was due to several factors, including technical issues, bureaucracy and a “lack of leadership at multiple levels.”

“The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe,” stated the report, which was based on 50 interviews.

Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the severity of the novel coronavirus was “largely ignored” by the U.S. government until there was already community spread.

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“We were very slow to to prohibit travel into this country from China or regions in that area where the virus was circulating,” said Offit. “When we finally did that, it was too late.”

The country’s pandemic preparedness plan — put together in response to the 2005 H1N1 virus by Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci — was also scrapped by the Trump administration, which Offit said left the U.S. ill-prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.

By comparison, Canada’s leaders from multiple levels and political parties have called on Canadians to self-isolate and physically distance themselves to contain the spread of the virus.






1:48
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’

The country’s strategy to deal with this pandemic has been adapted from its influenza preparedness plan, which was updated in 2018.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also consistently deferred to the “advice of health professionals” in his daily press conferences to inform Canada’s approach.

Experts who spoke with Global News said a number of factors are driving the stark differences between how the pandemic is unfolding in Canada and the U.S.

One of the big ones is how Canada’s provinces have been able to work together on a response, said Stephen Hoption Cann, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

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“What we’ve seen through this spreading pandemic is that there’s a lot of co-ordination on quarantine measures and closures from one province to the next, whereas you see the U.S., the 50 states — there’s quite large differences in what’s happening from one state to the next.”

The provinces have also been able to quickly ramp up testing, Hoption Cann said. As of Monday, more than 220,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Canada.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have yet to release comprehensive numbers of Americans tested for COVID-19, but the COVID Tracking Project — a system run by data professionals that tallies every coronavirus test conducted in the U.S. — lists the total at around 850,000.

There’s also the differing structures of the health-care systems, he said. Canadians can access care without costs or insurance claims. And while some U.S. insurers have announced they’ll waive copay fees for testing, for example, there remain significant financial barriers in the system.






2:38
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo pleads for healthcare workers across the U.S. to help New York


Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo pleads for healthcare workers across the U.S. to help New York

In New York City, high population density and social determinants of health such as income and housing are factors, according to Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist and owner of EPI Research in Winnipeg.

“You have people living in very overcrowded apartments and living situations, and those people will be at even higher risk,” she said.

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The city has nearly 33,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and 776 deaths.

While there has been a large number in cases, Carr said the death rate in the city appears to be on par with other areas.


READ MORE:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

“The mortality rate, just like Canada, is still very much on the low side,” she said.

Sarah Albrecht, a social epidemiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University, added to this.

She said the city’s status as a travel hub for international and domestic tourism makes it particularly vulnerable when faced with a pandemic.

“In many ways, it’s what makes NYC a unique and exciting place,” Albrecht said.

“But when it comes to infectious diseases, the population density — having people so close together — is what makes it easy for them to take hold, and to spread so quickly.”






1:41
Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s Central Park converted into emergency field hospital for COVID-19 patients


Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s Central Park converted into emergency field hospital for COVID-19 patients

The population density in New York City more than doubles that of major cities like Toronto, with 10,935 people per square kilometre, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Comparatively, figures from Statistics Canada in 2016 showed that Toronto had a population density of 4,334 people per square kilometre.

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New York City also has large pockets of marginalized populations, who Albrecht said are at an even higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and experiencing more severe disease.


READ MORE:
Canada moving at an ‘unprecedented rate’ to make supplies amid coronavirus pandemic: minister

That state’s hospitals are not fully equipped for the pandemic outbreak, which Albrecht said could also be a factor.

Personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gowns that repel fluid are in short supply across the country, she said.

Albrecht added New York’s lack of ventilators has also put doctors in the “awful” position of having to decide which patients will have access to a ventilator and which will be forced to go without life-saving equipment.

In an email to Global News, Charles Branas, chair of the department of epidemiology at Columbia, said “extreme, unprecedented measures are being taken, like building ICU beds in a tented hospital in Central Park.”






8:11
Government departments working together to obtain and manufacture PPE supplies: Bains


Government departments working together to obtain and manufacture PPE supplies: Bains

The situation is much less dire in Canada, which has set aside more than $11 billion to combat the virus.

Provinces that were hit hardest during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak had ventilators stockpiled in case of emergency.

Ontario, which was hit hardest by the SARS pandemic, said Friday it had approximately 3,250 ventilators that were ready to be deployed.

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As previously reported by Global News, the province of British Columbia has 1,272 ventilators, while Nova Scotia, who began tapping the private sector for supplies last week, reportedly has 240 ventilators and another 140 on order.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus: Developing a rapid COVID-19 test is in the works in Canada, globally

The Alberta government said it has 477 with another 50 on order while Manitoba health officials told reporters they had 243 ventilators with another 20 on order.

Saskatchewan has 91 adult ventilators for critical care, 80 additional subacute ventilators and 250 additional ventilators ordered.

Newfoundland and Labrador officials said they have 156 ventilators. Prince Edward Island has 19, with 15 on order.

Nunavut has the least amount of ventilators available at seven, but officials said all intensive care patients are transported out of the territory to be treated.






2:30
Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear


Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear

Paul-Émile Cloutier, president of HealthCareCAN, said in earlier interview with Global News that as long as the outbreak doesn’t worsen and overwhelm Canada’s health care system, provinces should have enough ventilators to meet their current needs.

If that were to happen, Cloutier, whose group represents health care organizations and hospitals, said Canada may find it difficult to find suppliers able to meet a sudden influx in demand for supplies.

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“If there was a surge of patients coming through to which they would need to be hospitalized, then you may have a shortage of ventilators,” he said.

“Their issue is where would you get them?”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: Trudeau says he’s ‘proud’ of Canada’s COVID-19 response as U.S. cases soar – Global News

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As U.S. President Donald Trump slowly comes to grips with his country’s grim prognosis for the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conceded Monday he’s taking a measure of comfort from early signs that the caseload in Canada is on a different trajectory than the United States.

Trudeau said he’s proud that Canadians appear to be taking seriously the importance of staying home and keeping their distance from others — the one measure public health officials say is paramount to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

And while the success or failure of those efforts won’t become clear for at least another week, Trudeau said, there’s little doubt that Canada is doing better than its southern neighbour at limiting the scope of the illness.


READ MORE:
This week ‘critical’ for Canada’s fight against coronavirus, officials say. Here’s why

“I think I would say we’re not necessarily on the same trajectory,” Trudeau said in French during the daily fresh-air briefing outside his Rideau Cottage residence. “We were quicker to get the screening done, and I think we have had more success in getting people to self-isolate.”

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The U.S., however, has hardly set a high bar.

There were more than 156,000 cases by midday, nearly 13,000 more than the day before, and the number of deaths was hurtling towards 3,000. A shortage of beds, ventilators and masks had hospitals in hard-hit New York City operating well past the breaking point, using refrigerator trucks as makeshift morgues. The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, docked at Manhattan’s Pier 90 to help with the overflow.






3:18
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says business, charities, non-profits eligible for COVID-19 wage subsidy


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says business, charities, non-profits eligible for COVID-19 wage subsidy

Alarming spikes in the caseloads in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana had officials in those states bracing for the worst, well aware they might be ill-equipped to handle it. In New Orleans, home to America’s worst per-capita COVID-19 death rate, the mayor said she’d have cancelled Mardi Gras last month if only the federal government had warned her.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead voice of medical reason on the White House coronavirus task force, has warned the U.S. death toll could land between 100,000 and 200,000 — and that’s after Trump abandoned his “aspirational” target of April 12 for reopening parts of the country, extending stay-at-home measures until the end of the month instead.

“By very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save one million American lives,” Trump said Monday during a Rose Garden news conference as he spelled out the need to keep the country shuttered for another month.

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“This is our shared patriotic duty; challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days. We’re sort of putting it all on the line, this 30 days.”


READ MORE:
Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

To the horror of public health experts, Trump had been musing about a celebratory Easter long weekend marked by packed churches, open shops and an accelerated return to American normalcy, insisting he didn’t want the “cure” to be worse than the “problem.” But early indications from Washington state, which reported the first known U.S. case, suggest the social-distancing strategy is having an impact.

A joint online survey released Monday by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggested, among other things, a difference in attitudes between the two countries when it comes to modifying behaviour to curb the spread of the virus.

Only 86 per cent of 1,004 U.S. respondents said they were keeping the requisite two-metre distance between themselves and others, compared with 95 per cent of the 1,590 Canadians surveyed, while 85 per cent of the American survey group said they had stopped going out for necessities — nine percentage points less than their northern neighbours.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians’ actions today will determine where we are a month from now


Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians’ actions today will determine where we are a month from now

And while 86 per cent of the Canadians polled said they had asked friends and family to keep their social distance, only 72 per cent of the U.S. respondents could say the same.

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“Everything depends on the choices that people have made and continue to make,” Trudeau said.

“I’m very proud of the way that Canadians have rallied and continue to abide by the guidelines. I think they understand that we all have an opportunity to have a direct impact on Canada’s ability to come out of this.”

When confronted with the failings of the American response, Trump frequently claims that things would have been far worse had the U.S. not slammed the door back in late January on travellers from China, where the outbreak originated. Most major airlines by that point had already suspended flights to China.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau tells Canadians ‘it’s raining’ metaphorically-speaking


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau tells Canadians ‘it’s raining’ metaphorically-speaking

Canada, however, didn’t take significant steps to restrict international travellers until mid-March. On Monday, Trudeau — asked whether that should have happened earlier — seemed to acknowledge that with the benefit of hindsight, more could have been done.

“We’re obviously not, in an unprecedented situation, always going to get things perfectly right,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to be committed to doing the right things as best as we can and figuring out what works, what doesn’t work, and moving forward in a way that is both nimble and focused on helping Canadians, insomuch as a government can be nimble and agile.”

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Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel two weeks ago while still allowing two-way trade, supply lines and commercial interests to continue, including workers who live in one country but commute to the other. The U.S. has also banned foreign nationals from China, Iran and parts of Europe.

Given U.S. social-distancing restrictions will remain in place through April, those existing travel bans would likely be extended as well, Trump said — “maybe even toughened up a little bit.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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