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Canadians warned of scammers taking advantage of COVID-19 fears



As cases of COVID-19 in Canada escalate, scammers have begun taking advantage of the public’s fears surrounding the pandemic.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians about a “text scam” meant to exploit people who had applied for Canada’s new emergency aid program. The text, which advises the user that their benefit money had been deposited, includes a link for users to click for confirmation.

This message is not from the federal government.

“I’m sorry to say there appears to be a text scam going around on the new emergency response benefit,” Trudeau said Thursday. “I want to remind everyone that the government’s website is the best place to find reliable information on everything we’re doing.”

Samantha McAdam, a writer in Toronto, told CTV News Toronto she recently received a text supposedly from the Canadian government telling her that $1,375 had been put into her account.

“Quite honestly, like a lot of people I’m at home with my children and didn’t get a full night’s sleep, so for a second I thought: ‘Is this real?’” she said.

Fortunately, she didn’t fall for it.

Jeff Thomson, a spokesperson for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said his organization has received reports of several similar text scams related to COVID-19. He said the links in these texts will typically bring you to a fake website which will ask for your banking information.

“It’s designed to harvest your personal financial information at the end of the day,” he said.

Other fraudsters have looked to take advantage of the public’s COVID-19 fears by sending out texts claiming to offer free points to Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart. Shoppers Drug Mart later sent its own text to customers to debunk the scam.

There is also fraudulent information online meant confuse and trick the user. One such scam involved a fake news article doctored to appear like it was from CTV News, which was circulated through the messaging application WhatsApp.

On Thursday, the British Columbia Securities Commission warned the public of an online scam involving job opportunities that promised the ability to work from home as a securities trader during the pandemic. According to the commission, the ads indicate interested parties would be able to trade without a licence and would keep a large portion of their profits, provided they pay a fee.

The BCSC said anyone in the business of trading securities must be registered with the province or territory where they live, minus some exceptions.

“The BCSC expects that similar scams will continue to increase as more Canadians are looking for alternative sources of income due to layoffs or requirements to stay home during the COVID-19 crisis,” the commission wrote in a news release.

Last week, the Canadian Securities Administrators warned investors to be careful of companies claiming to sell a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, as there are currently no such approved products.

There’s also growing anger surrounding the perceived price-gauging at some stores and in the secondary market.

On Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford slammed Pusateri’s Fine Foods, a high-end grocery store in Toronto, and vowed to put an end to price gouging after images emerged of single containers of Lysol wipes being sold for $29.99 at one of their stores.

“[The] vast majority of companies around this province, around this country, are trying to help people out [and] people have the nerve to actually jack up their prices to $30 a container for hand wipes? It’s beyond belief,” Ford told reporters.

The store has since apologized for the “oversight” and offered refunds for anyone who paid the $29.99.

In British Columbia, the government has moved to ban the resale of food, medicine and cleaning supplies in an effort to limit price gouging and hoarding of essential products.

“These measures will help end hoarding of our grocery stores and the shameful black market for medical supplies,” said B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth.

With files from Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello and CTV News Toronto

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Trudeau pledges more help for vulnerable Canadians struggling with coronavirus crisis –



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more help is on the way for Canadian youth and seniors struggling with staying at home and accessing critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his daily address on Sunday, the prime minister first delivered a message to youth across the country, acknowledging for many Canadians “home isn’t a safe place to be” and that for “many more, they have no place to go at all.”

The federal government has pledged $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to children and youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support and community resources.

The government will also boost aid for Canadian seniors, contributing $9 million through United Way Canada to help the country’s older population get groceries, medication and other critical items.

The aid will also go toward assessing seniors’ individual needs and connecting them to the necessary community resources. 

The new relief measures come on top of previous commitments to assist Canadians experiencing homelessness, as well as those relying on women’s shelters, sexual assault centres and similar facilities in Indigenous communities.  

WATCH | Trudeau speaks directly to Canadian youth:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to Canadian children and youth across the country Sunday, announcing more mental health supports for those struggling with isolation.  1:02

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, kids relocate to Quebec cottage

On the advice of doctors, Trudeau continues to work from home despite the conclusion of his 14-day period of self-isolation.

His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau — who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month following a trip to the United Kingdom — took to social media late Saturday to say she had received a clean bill of health. 

The prime minister said Sunday that he was “very happy” to receive the news. 

“It’s been a few days since she’s been symptom-free, and obviously I want to thank everyone who’s sent messages of support.”

WATCH | Trudeau updates Canadians on his family:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an update on his family Sunday after Sophie Grégoire Trudeau said she had received a clean bill of health.    0:45

Trudeau said he will remain at the family’s home in Ottawa while his wife and three children spend some time at the family’s cottage retreat in Quebec.

“Up to a few days before she was clear, I was still sharing a roof — we were being careful — but sharing a roof with someone who’d tested positive for COVID-19. So I have to continue in isolation in order to be sure that we’re following all protocols and the recommendations by Health Canada.”

As for other Canadians trying to follow recommended guidelines, the prime minister underscored the public health agency’s criteria about who gets a green light to go for walks in public.

“It’s very simple,” Trudeau said. “You can go for a walk unless you have … tested positive for COVID-19, unless you have symptoms of COVID-19 or unless you have returned from outside the country within 14 days.”

Restrictions tightened on domestic travel

On Saturday, Trudeau announced that anyone hoping to board a plane or train between cities and provinces who exhibits symptoms of coronavirus will be barred from travel as of noon ET Monday.

Personnel from air and rail companies will conduct health checks on passengers prior to boarding and can now prevent anyone showing signs of the illness from continuing on their journey. 

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that because interprovincial bus travel does not fall under federal jurisdiction, he would be working with provinces to recommend similar protocols for bus operators. 

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WHO expert's advice for Canada: don't just flatten the curve, curtail it – CTV News



The Canadian doctor at the forefront of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) fight against the novel coronavirus says Canada is taking the appropriate steps to flatten the curve, noting that the biggest challenge lies in the speed of finding new cases and isolating them.

“The danger that Canada faces, like any other country, are the cases you have in the country right now and how those are managed,” WHO official Dr. Bruce Aylward told CTV News Channel via Skype from Geneva Sunday.

“It’s going to need to be more then flattening the curve—it’s flatten and curtail, or cut that curve as much as possible.”

The Canadian doctor has become the WHO’s leading expert on COVID-19. During the height of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus, Aylward led an international team on a fact-finding mission in the region.

As the outbreak spread across the world, Aylward studied the unprecedented response from global governments as they tried to “flatten the curve.”

“Canada has been doing all the right things,” Aylward said.

“It’s been working very hard to attack this on two fronts. The first is making sure the treatments and capacities are in place to take care of sick Canadians. But, as importantly, trying to find those cases rapidly and trying to isolate, because that’s what slows down the virus.”

Aylward says the best course of action in fighting this disease, so far, has proven to be a good defence and offence.

In a previous interview with CTV’s W5, he noted that China was able to stop the disease from spreading further by enacting “draconian” steps: self-isolation, mass quarantine and physical distancing measures.

He says both federal and provincial officials are taking the right steps to ensure the safety of Canadians, encouraging physical distancing measures and even shutting down provincial borders.

Our biggest challenge, he says, will be diagnosing and isolating mild cases of the disease to stop its rapid transmission.

“The only areas that have successfully managed to keep the numbers down have really been east Asia… China, Korea, Singapore. In all of these places what they did was make sure that they effectively isolated everybody with the disease, whether it was mild or serious disease, because they’re both going to spread the virus,” he said.

“You’ve got to do is take the heat out of this thing and that’s how they did it.”

Aylward says because the virus spreads so rapidly, the steps countries take to flatten the curve need to be equally as aggressive — something he admits is hard for the public to understand.

“Your real goal at this point is preventing your health services from being overwhelmed so you can take care of the seriously sick and save as many lives as possible,” he noted.

As of Sunday morning, more than 5,600 people in Canada have been infected with the virus and 61 have died.​

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Canada to provide more funding for seniors, vulnerable amid coronavirus pandemic: Trudeau – Global News



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced increased funding for seniors, youth and other vulnerable groups that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking from the Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Sunday, he said the government will contribute $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations that support practical services to Canadian seniors.

These services will include the grocery delivery, medications, and personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.

“In a country like Canada, no one should be forgotten,” he said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Canada to ban sick travellers from domestic flights, intercity trains

On Saturday, Trudeau announced that beginning Monday, domestic airlines and federally-regulated train operators will prevent anyone showing signs of illness from travelling.

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“As of Monday at noon, people showing any signs whatsoever of COVID-19 will be denied boarding at all domestic flights and intercity passenger trains,” Trudeau told reporters.

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

A press release detailing the new measures also said the restrictions would require all air operators and intercity rail companies to do a “health check,” and screen their passengers before they come on board.

Coronavirus outbreak: Sophie Grégoire Trudeau says she has recovered from COVID-19

Coronavirus outbreak: Sophie Grégoire Trudeau says she has recovered from COVID-19

During her daily update on Saturday, Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Canada is “definitely not out of the woods” and that now is the time to “absolutely double down” on all efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as of 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country had topped 5,400.

Tam said as of Saturday over 184,000 Canadians had been tested for COVID-19.

She said seven per cent of cases need hospitalization, three per cent were critically ill. One per cent of cases so far have been fatal.

READ MORE: 65% of reported COVID-19 cases in Canada related to community transmission, latest data says

New data released by PHAC said 65 per cent of reported cases in Canada were linked to community transmission, while 35 per cent were either “exposed while travelling or exposed to a traveller returning to Canada.”

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As of March 28, 2020, demographics, symptoms and outcomes were only available for 2,811 cases reported in Canada, providing a limited snapshot of who has caught the virus and how.

Coronavirus outbreak: Ottawa restricts domestic travel

Coronavirus outbreak: Ottawa restricts domestic travel

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 12, also provided an update on Saturday, saying she was feeling “so much better” and had received the “all clear” from her physician and Ottawa Public Health.

During his daily update Prime Minister Trudeau said Sophie was “feeling great,” and confirmed that their children were also doing well.

“We’re all doing well,” he said, adding that he would continue to work from home.

–With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun, Maryam Shah and David Lao

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

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