- Border no longer open for routine, casual traffic between Canada and U.S.
- Canadians stuck in Peru in limbo on getting help to leave the country.
- Flight bringing Canadians home from Morocco is expected to land in Montreal.
- Cruise ship approaches Genoa, Italy amid virus fears.
- Governors of Illinois, New York and California order people to stay home.
- Starbucks to close stores, move to drive-thru and delivery.
- Why it’s so difficult to get tested in Canada.
The longest undefended border between two countries is now closed to non-essential traffic, such as tourists and people looking to do some shopping, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The new normal at Canada-U.S. border crossings went into effect at midnight.
Under the bilateral agreement, truckers and workers essential to maintaining supply lines are exempt from the travel order. Also exempt are health professionals and others who work on one side of the border but live on the other. Students who hold valid visas, temporary foreign workers and anyone with valid work responsibilities may also cross.
The ban on non-essential cross-border travel will stay in place for at least 30 days. Ottawa has also agreed to bar all asylum seekers entering Canada through irregular crossings for the duration of the agreement. Washington has enacted a similar arrangement with Mexico.
At midnight tonight, we’re restricting all non-essential travel across the Canada-US border to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep you safe. But we’ll preserve supply chains so food, fuel, and life-saving medicines can continue to reach people on both sides of the border.
An Air Canada flight bringing a group of Canadians home from Morocco amid the global coronavirus pandemic is expected to land in Montreal on Saturday. The repatriation flight, arranged with the help of the federal government, is due to depart from Casablanca at 1:50 p.m. ET, or 6:50 p.m. local time.
WATCH | ‘A lot of stuff is by chance,’ says Canadian trying to get out of Morocco:
The government has urged all Canadians who are abroad to return home quickly, but some have struggled to find flights as they face border restrictions and limited travel options as airlines cut capacity. For Canadians stranded in Morocco, they will have to pay for repatriation because it’s a commercial flight — not a rescue flight chartered by the Canadian government. In India, Canadians are scrambling to get home as India prepares to ban all incoming international flights for a week.
For more than 800 Canadians stuck in Peru, there is new pressure from the Peruvian government to leave this weekend. Peru, which shut down all borders and airports on March 16, said that as of Sunday, it will no longer support any repatriation efforts by foreign governments.
The number of cases of the respiratory illness in Canada has increased beyond 1,000, for a total of 1,087. There were 214 new cases on Friday, the most in one day in Canada since the pandemic was declared on March 11.
Worldwide, more than 274,800 people have been infected and 11,389 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
In the United States, Connecticut, Illinois and New York have joined California in ordering non-essential workers to remain at home to slow the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 200 lives in the U.S.
In business, Air Canada is laying off more than 5,100 flight attendants as the airline cuts routes and parks planes due to COVID-19, a union official said on Friday. The airline had already said it plans to “gradually suspend the majority of its international and U.S. transborder flights” by March 31.
Wesley Lesosky, president of CUPE’s Air Canada component, said he has “never seen layoffs like this.”
WestJet has said it is suspending international travel as of Sunday for a 30-day period. Swoop, the discount carrier owned by WestJet Airlines, will do the same, and said it is now working to bring home more than 2,300 Swoop passengers who are still outside of Canada.
Sunwing Airlines said it expects to have all of its customers, most of whom are at Mexican or Caribbean resorts, back home by Monday. Sunwing is also offering vacant seats on its repatriation flights free of charge to any Canadians stranded in sun-kissed parts of the hemisphere, including non-Sunwing customers.
WATCH | Montreal hospitals launch global challenge to design new ventilator:
Starbucks is temporarily reducing service in both Canada and the United States as well, closing cafes and moving to drive-thru and delivery instead. Some exceptions will be made, such as locations in and around hospitals, and the closure doesn’t directly affect licensed stores. In a news release, Starbucks Canada president Lori Digulla said stores will remain closed for two weeks, while staff will continue to be paid for the next 30 days, whether they work or not.
Italy, with its 60 million citizens, increased its death toll by 627 on Friday, to 4,032 lives lost to the virus. It is the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged in the country a month ago. On Thursday, Italy’s death toll surpassed that of China, a country with a population more than 20 times larger and where the outbreak first began.
WATCH | New York City’s empty streets:
More than 86,000 people have recovered from the virus, mostly in China, but the pace is much slower than its spread. 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.
Though the illness is mild in most people, the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious symptoms. Italy has the world’s second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead — 87 per cent — were over 70.
WATCH | More young people testing positive for coronavirus:
People with underlying health issues may also have an increased likelihood for developing serious complications. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says Indigenous people also face a higher risk because of health inequities, higher rates of underlying conditions and the difficulties that come with living in remote communities.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and other areas of the world dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, track the latest numbers here.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia announced 77 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 348. At the same time, the City of Vancouver said all playgrounds will shut down and all restaurants must stop any dine-in services by the end of Friday or face prosecution, as part of a host of new policies unveiled a day after the province declared a state of emergency. “The changes being announced today are major. They mean … many, many people will be laid off,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Ontario is launching an online portal for students who can’t go to class because of COVID-19. Doug Ford’s government said the program will include math and literacy material, in both English and French. The province saw 60 new cases reported Friday, pushing the provincial total past 300. It comes a day after officials said a man in his 50s with an underlying health condition, no recent travel history outside Canada or known contact with a COVID-19 case had died. The Milton, Ont., man’s death is the second that health officials in the province have linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott — who has faced increased questions over test availability, wait times for testing and hospital capacity — said Thursday the province has added more telehealth lines and is working on improving lab testing. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Alberta’s credit rating was downgraded after a global credit agency said its budget is ‘no longer valid,’ and the province hasn’t done enough to respond to economic pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. The day before, the province’s top doctor urged people to take the risks from COVID-19 seriously as the province reported its first death. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that an Edmonton man in his 60s died late Wednesday. The province is doing “all we can to fight the spread of the virus,” Hinshaw said. “But to do this, we will need everyone’s help.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, including information about how Alberta Health Services handled the case of a doctor who tested positive for COVID-19.
Police in the Quebec capital have arrested a COVID-19 patient who defied quarantine orders. The person was arrested while out for a stroll in Quebec City’s Limoilou neighbourhood. As the province tries to clamp down on COVID-19, some hotels are preparing to step up in case they are needed to house non-infected hospital patients to make space in the province’s health facilities. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
Saskatchewan announced it will use daycare facilities inside schools to provide care for the children of health-care workers and other “essential” workers. The province, which as of Friday afternoon was reporting 26 confirmed and presumptive cases, has banned public gatherings of more than 50 people. But the chief medical officer of health wants people to avoid groups of more than five. The City of Regina declared its own state of emergency on Friday, while restaurants and bars in the province are being closed for dine-in service, and are now limited to pickup and delivery. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba declared a state of emergency Friday to respond to the pandemic. The province, like many others, said Thursday it is reviewing its inventory of critical supplies like protective gear for health-care workers and ventilators. More ventilators are on the way, officials said, and while the supply of protective gear is solid for now, the province has said it will buy more. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, which delivered a budget Thursday amid economic turmoil linked to the pandemic.
In New Brunswick, no new cases were announced for the second day in a row, a day after the province declared a state of emergency. Still, chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said two days in a row without any new cases “doesn’t mean a whole lot” due to the incubation period of the virus. Russell said she expects to see more cases in the coming days, noting returning travellers may not be exhibiting any symptoms yet. On the same day, Premier Blaine Higgs said the provincial budget is already obsolete due to COVID-19’s economic fallout. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Health officials in Nova Scotia reported one new presumptive COVID-19 case on Friday. The new case comes after the province said it is allocating $1 million to help the province’s food banks amid growing economic damage caused by COVID-19. The province, which banned evictions of vulnerable people during the crisis, has said more supports will be rolled out in the days ahead. Alcohol sales in the province have soared amid panic buying, while those working in addiction services are planning ahead in case of liquor store closures. They are concerned those going through alcohol withdrawal will end up in hospital, draining health-care resources away from the pandemic. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
The top doctor in P.E.I. is urging people to respect self-isolation and social distancing protocols, saying the province wants to avoid the stark situations seen in places like Italy. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s health minister said Friday designated COVID-19 test sites are coming — but will be by appointment only. The news comes after a top education official in Newfoundland and Labrador says all students between kindergarten and Grade 9 will pass to the next grade, “no matter what time we get back.” Tony Stack, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, said the plan for high school students is not yet finalized. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Canada’s North, but efforts are underway to ensure governments are prepared. Yukon is setting up a respiratory assessment centre, and a First Nation community in the Northwest Territories declared a state of emergency in a bid to protect its elders. Read more about what’s happening in the North.
Here’s a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province:
- British Columbia: 348 confirmed cases, including five recovered and eight deaths.
- Ontario: 318 confirmed cases, including five recovered and two deaths.
- Alberta: 195 confirmed cases, including three recovered and one death.
- Quebec: 139 confirmed cases, including one recovered and one death.
- Saskatchewan: 26 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Manitoba: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- New Brunswick: 11 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Nova Scotia: 15 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Prince Edward Island: Two cases the province lists as positive.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Four confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Repatriated Canadians: 12 confirmed cases.
Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Not all provinces are listing figures on those who have recovered. The recent COVID-19 related death in Japan is not currently included in the province-by-province tally of cases.
Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7:00 a.m. ET
New Jersey’s governor was expected on Saturday to follow four other states — California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut — demanding that millions of Americans close up shop and stay home.
The sweeping state-by-state public health restrictions, unprecedented in breadth and scope, added to the distance being experienced among ordinary Americans even as the pandemic seemed to close in on the highest levels of power in the nation’s capital.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in non-essential businesses must stay home as much as possible and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of more than 19 million people. He acted after California all but confined its 40 million residents to their homes.
In Washington, an aide to U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, leading the White House task force formed to combat the outbreak, tested positive for the virus, but neither President Donald Trump nor Pence have had close contact with the individual, Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, said in a statement on Friday.
Pence’s office was notified of the positive test on Friday evening, and officials were seeking to determine who the staffer might have exposed, Miller said.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Friday that the U.S. tax filing day will be extended from April 15 to July 15. He encouraged all taxpayers who may have refunds to file now.
The total number of known U.S. coronavirus cases has risen exponentially in recent days, climbing past 18,000 in a surge that health officials attributed in large part to an increase in diagnostic testing.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7:00 a.m. ET
Italy has imposed further restrictions on public life. The government has announced all parks, public gardens and playgrounds will be closed in Italy starting Saturday for at least five days. The death toll in Italy leapt by 627 to 4,032 on Friday, an increase of 18.4 per cent, by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.
Spain said it plans to turn a Madrid conference centre into a giant military hospital, as Europe’s second-worst outbreak claimed another 235 lives.
France reported 78 new deaths on Friday, taking the total to 450, an increase of 21 per cent.
Germany may enforce a nationwide curfew if the country’s 83 million people fail to keep their distance from each other this weekend.
The U.K. government says it’s shipping large supplies of protective equipment to hospitals. Britain lags behind Italy, Spain and France in the spread of the new coronavirus, but already the country’s overstretched health system is creaking.
WATCH | U.K. pubs last call before indefinite shutdown:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of pubs, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs and other businesses from Friday to slow the spread of the virus.
Here’s what’s happening in Asia
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7:30 a.m. ET
Indonesia’s total of cases rose to 450, with 38 deaths, a health ministry official said on Saturday. This comes a day after the governor of Jakarta declared a state of emergency in the Indonesian capital for the next two weeks.
Malaysia’s cases jumped to 1,183 on Saturday with four deaths, and the government warned of more cases next week as it looks for people who attended a mass religious gathering linked to a majority of the cases. Malaysia will mobilize its army, starting Sunday, to help enforce curbs on movement.
Vietnam will suspend all inbound international flights, the government said in a statement on Saturday.
All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Saturday.
In Taiwan, the government has taken multiple steps to ensure safety essentials make it to consumers, including putting weekly limits per citizen on safety mask purchases and rationing the amount of cleaning supplies consumers can buy.
In Thailand, an outbreak of the virus has been traced to a boxing event that took place at the beginning of March. There are now 72 cases of COVID-19 from three boxing stadiums since the first cluster of transmission was reported from one match at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok held on March 6. Since those clusters were reported, the number of confirmed cases in Thailand has jumped to 322, doubling the number within a week.
Though the epidemic erupted in China in December, and South Korea at one stage had the second-most infections, both subsequently succeeded in stifling domestic transmission of the virus.
South Korea reported 147 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new cases bring the country’s total to 8,799. The country’s election commission says all voters will be required to wear masks and use disposable gloves at ballot booths during the April 15 parliamentary elections.
Here’s a look at some other developments around COVID-19
- Canadian consumers are still snapping up supplies, leaving some store shelves empty, despite efforts to restock. Some grocery stores have implemented limits on essential items while others have not. The Retail Council of Canada, an industry group that represents big chains like Lobaw, Sobeys and Walmart, says it doesn’t plan to advocate for any rationing or limits per person.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Saturday by more than 100 to 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.
Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $31.93 billion US support package, has suspended all domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains for 14 days starting Saturday.
South Africa announced coronavirus cases jumped to 202, the most in the sub-Saharan region, and the country’s largest airport announced that foreigners would not be allowed to disembark. Another African nation announced its first case, Cape Verde. Thirty-seven countries on the continent now have cases, with a total now well above 800.
Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America, with confirmed cases jumping by over 280 on Friday to 904, with 11 deaths total. Several countries in Latin America are among the least prepared in the world for a pandemic, with health-care systems already stretched thin. Peruvian Minister of Defence Walter Martos previously told local America TV that the nation has less than 400 respirators available. “It’s not a lot,” he said. “Really, we don’t have the infrastructure that developed nations do.”
Australia has ratcheted up its social distancing regulations to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, demanding indoor venues provide at least four square metres of space per person. The space constraint announced Friday follows a ban on Wednesday of non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, including weddings and restaurants. Gatherings considered essential include schools, supermarkets and workplaces, which are exempt. Australia has also tightened regulations on travel to and from remote Indigenous communities in a bid to spare them COVID-19 outbreaks.
Netflix is launching a $100M US relief fund for workers in the creative community as the film and television industry suffers. The fund will be distributed to “third parties and nonprofits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where we have a large production base,” according to a statement. That includes $1 million to be shared between the AFC, formerly known as the Actors Fund of Canada, and Fondation des Artistes in Canada.
Starting Tuesday, Cuba will stop allowing foreigners to enter the island, with the exception of residents. President Miguel Diaz-Canel made the announcement on state television late on Friday, saying that the order would stay in place for 30 days. As of Friday, the island nation had announced 16 cases of COVID-19 and one death, all in people who had traveled overseas or been in direct contact with a traveller.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says he’s ‘proud’ of Canada’s COVID-19 response as U.S. cases soar – Global News
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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
This week ‘critical’ for Canada’s fight against coronavirus, officials say. Here’s why – Global News
As Canada continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, officials say this week will be “critical” in the country’s fight against the outbreak.
“This is a really critical week in our fight against the coronavirus,” Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, said at a press conference on Monday, urging Canadians to continue physical distancing.
“I know that it is hard, but we all must stay strong and stay at home unless we are doing essential work like stocking the shelves in our grocery stores, like working on the frontlines of our health-care system.”
Freeland’s remarks echoed those from Canada’s chief public health officer, who on Sunday said this week would be “very, very important” to understand trends in the pandemic and to determine whether physical distancing has been effective.
Dr. Theresa Tam said she would be keeping an eye on what’s happening in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta — where there has been community transmission of COVID-19 — to see if there has been a drop in new cases, like what has been reported in B.C.
Across the country, federal and provincial health officials have banned large gatherings, closed non-essential businesses and advised Canadians to practise physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, health officials in B.C. released modelling that showed the province’s rate of increase in cases had dropped from about 24 per cent to 12 per cent.
B.C.’s health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the results left her feeling “cautiously optimistic” about the future.
Tam noted, though, that Canada is a “big country” and different regions are experiencing different timing of the pandemic, with different periods of acceleration and deceleration.
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Dr. Suzanne Sicchia, an associate professor at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said this week and next are important because they will give health officials a “better sense of whether the measures we’ve taken to flatten the curve have been effective and to what degree.”
“To these ends, the experts will be watching to see if there is a decrease in the rate of new, confirmed cases,” Sicchia wrote in an email to Global News.
She said health officials will “no doubt” use this evidence to inform the ongoing public health and health-care responses to the virus.
Dr. Jeff Kwong, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, told Global News that based on mathematical models and what we know about the virus’s incubation period, this would be the week many may begin having symptoms.
“It’s going to be this week or the next week that we’re going to see a wave of people who are really sick,“ Kwong said.
Kwong said this has already begun, with hospitals across the country already treating patients infected with COVID-19.
But he said what we have seen so far is just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Coronavirus reality check: physical distancing one week after new measures introduced
“We know there’s lots cases out there — most are mild — but how many of all these cases are going to be severe?” he said. “That’s what we’re going to start to see this week.”
On Monday, Tam said 6,671 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Canada.
Of those cases, Tam said approximately seven per cent require hospitalization, three per cent are critically ill and one per cent of cases have been fatal.
Tam cautioned, though, that these rates could fluctuate as more cases are reported.
According to Kwong, this week will also provide important insight into whether Canada needs to implement more stringent physical distancing measures.
He said if Canada sees fewer cases of COVID-19 than modelling has predicted, it will show that Canadians have done a good job.
Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?
If there is a dramatic spike in cases this week, Kwong said more stringent measures may be justified in order to prevent the health system from “collapsing in another three to four weeks.”
“I hope it does doesn’t come to pass, but, you know, it’s hard to say,” he said. “I mean, who knows what’s going to happen?”
Asked about the data from B.C., Sicchia said it is “promising,” but that we need to be “very cautious in making any definitive claims and even more so when it comes to generalizing these findings to other provinces.”
She said, though, that if the trend continues in B.C., we will know that we have been effective in flattening the curve in that province, and “that bodes well for us all.”
But Kwong said regardless of whether the rest of Canada sees encouraging results, the country “can’t afford to let up on physical distancing.”
He said it is likely the measures will need to stay in place “for months.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
In Canada and abroad, COVID-19 super-spreaders could be anywhere – CTV News
You may have heard of “patient 31” in South Korea, a woman who was thought to be the source of thousands of COVID-19 infections in that country. Or more recently, a man in India who had returned from Europe and reportedly infected people in more than a dozen villages. They are known as “super-spreaders” – individuals who can infect a large number of people easily.
The World Health Organization estimates someone with COVID-19 can infect between 2 and 2.5 individuals, but super-spreaders infect a large number of people, often in a crowded and busy environment like a church or a conference.
“In a weird way, that seems to be the pattern for this disease. It’s not just that it spreads universally across the landscape,” said CTV News’ science and technology specialist Dan Riskin.
“You get these hot spots where a whole bunch of people get infected at once, and when that happens you can call that person a super-spreader.”
In Canada, while no specific individual has yet been identified as super-spreader, there have been clusters, or hot spots, from coast-to-coast involving a significant number of people.
More than 60 cases of the 135 cases identified in Newfoundland and Labrador are tied to two wakes held at a funeral home on March 15. The funeral home has since been closed as the investigation continues.
“Many of our numbers right now are related to this one cluster, either directly or indirectly, and that will have an influence on what we see,” Dr. Janice Fitzerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health told reporters over the weekend, when asked when she might expect to see cases peak in the province.
On the other side of the country, up to 32 people infected with the virus could be tied directly or indirectly to the Pacific Dental Conference held in Vancouver earlier this month, according to the province’s medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. One of those attendees has since died.
Some of the factors that can make a patient a super spreader may be related to biology – if they produce more of a virus, for example, or if they take longer to recover from an infection and spread the virus over a longer period, according to experts.
Historic research showed that Mary Mallon, a cook in New York City infamously known as “Typhoid Mary”, was the source of a typhoid fever outbreak in the early 1900s that infected thousands, despite never having any symptoms herself. Scientists are researching how much of a role silent carriers of COVID-19 – those who exhibit no symptoms – play in unknowingly spreading the disease.
This is why self-isolation is important, Riskin said.
“It’s a reminder that for Canadians, we all have to take this seriously, because you don’t know if you’re that one person who unknowingly could infect thousands.”
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