Canada’s health minister says even as several provinces and sectors engage in a “cautious reopening,” people need to understand that the coronavirus outbreak is “not over.” Her message came as the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada exceeded 60,000.
Patty Hajdu said Monday that “the new normal will have to include new ways of living, new ways of working, that will protect us in this unique and difficult time.”
The number of known coronavirus cases around the world has topped 3.5 million, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University, with nearly 250,000 recorded COVID-19-related deaths.
As of 7:30 p.m. ET, Canada accounted for 60,772 presumptive and confirmed coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 26,030 cases as recovered or resolved. A tally maintained by CBC News based on provincial health data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting lists 3,981 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada, with two known COVID-19-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.
Governments around the world have been scrambling to try and slow the spread of the virus, build up health systems and sort out how to conduct testing on a large scale. In some areas — including provinces across Canada — those same governments are also looking forward to how they will exit the lockdowns put in place to respond to the pandemic.
Several provinces are taking some steps toward what many officials have called the “new” normal.
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects.
In Quebec, the hardest hit province in terms of numbers of cases and deaths, Premier François Legault announced Monday the province will delay the planned reopening of retail stores and other non-essential businesses in the greater Montreal area by one week, to May 18. Construction and manufacturing sectors across Quebec will reopen, as scheduled, on May 11, as will non-essential businesses outside the Montreal region.
In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she’s got mixed emotions about opening up.
“It’s very apparent that there is a huge need that’s getting missed,” said Alison Matsyk, who is a physiotherapist and owner of Stapleford Health and Rehab Centre. “The nervousness part comes with, ‘What’s it going to be like? What’s our risk?'”
Newfoundland and Labrador recently followed New Brunswick’s lead and allowed families to come together in “bubbles” made up of two households. But on Monday, Health Minister John Haggie told CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show that some of what he was hearing on social media after the first weekend of “bubble” families was a “a little bit worrying.”
Haggie said he is concerned people are moving too quickly, and urged them to slow down, just “nudge [the door] open gently.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Monday that even as things begin to reopen, people will have to keep practising physical distancing and cough etiquette, and stay home at the first sign of symptoms. Working while sick, for example, can no longer be allowed, Tam said, noting that this will be a challenge and require support from workplaces and governments.
The novel virus, for which there is no proven treatment or vaccine, first emerged in China and has since spread around the world. Public health officials have cautioned that actual infection numbers could be much higher, as recorded numbers don’t account for people who haven’t been tested or cases still under investigation.
There is also increased discussion and debate around contact tracing. Ontario’s premier is calling for a national strategy. Doug Ford says he spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday about the matter and planned to make the case to his provincial counterparts this week.
Contact tracing is a labour-intensive containment strategy in which each person diagnosed with COVID-19 is not only isolated but questioned about any behaviour that might have caused anyone in their social circle to also be infected. It is widely regarded as a key step to containing future waves or outbreaks as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
A spokesperson for Freeland, Katherine Cuplinskas, said the deputy prime minister agrees that a “united approach” to contact tracing “will be key to a safe, prudent economic reopening.”
Global push for a vaccine
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part Monday in an international pledging conference sponsored by the European Union to raise more than $11 billion for long-term COVID-19 vaccine research. Ottawa had already promised $859 million for the effort.
When asked why Canada didn’t offer new money on Monday, Trudeau said the event was only the beginning of the effort to find, manufacture and distribute a vaccine to fight the pandemic.
The United States has refused to contribute to the global effort.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan is expected on Wednesday to outline the broad strokes of B.C.’s plan to reopen, but it won’t go into effect until at least mid-May. The province shut down relatively few activities to begin with, including eating in restaurants, personal service providers such as hairdressers or nail salons, and activities where more than 50 people gather in the same area. The focus is expected to be on giving people broad rules for how they can safely practise a “new normal.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Health officials in Alberta say they are monitoring an outbreak of 30 COVID-19 cases among employees at a Purolator distribution centre in Calgary. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there is little evidence that the illness can be spread on packaging over long periods of time. Still, she is advising anyone who gets a delivery to throw away the packing and wash their hands. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan, which lifted some of its COVID-19-related restrictions on Monday, reported 34 new cases the same day, the largest single-day increase since the first case was detected in the province. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba reported no new cases Monday, as it lifted some COVID-19–related restrictions. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said Monday the province has hit its target of 16,000 tests per day, and that things are going in the right direction. The number of new cases in the province dropped to below 400 for the first time in weeks. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, summer camps say they are still waiting for guidelines around their startups. The association in charge of the camps is working with the province to draw up measures, but registrations and hiring remain on hold. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including a story about concerns from English school boards around a plan to reopen elementary schools.
New Brunswick has gone 15 days in a row with no new reported coronavirus cases. “We have come a long way, but we are still vulnerable,” Premier Blaine Higgs said in a statement released Sunday. Read more about what’s happening in N.B., including a story about how the province plans to improve distance learning.
Nova Scotia is reporting another death related to COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 38. The death occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, which has accounted for 32 of the COVID-19 deaths in the province. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says the first weekend of Phase 1 reopening went well. “I drove around a bit, I saw a lot of people fishing on the banks of the streams and ponds and they were all distanced more than what they would have needed to be,” he said Monday. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador recorded a third straight day with no new COVID-19 cases Monday, making it seven days without new cases in the past eight. The province plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province has reported a total of 259 cases, with three deaths. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Nunavut is back to having no cases of COVID-19, after the chief public health officer announced the one reported case from Pond Inlet was in fact a false positive. “As there were no other positive COVID-19 tests in Pond Inlet,” Dr. Michael Patterson said in a statement, “we decided to ask for the original swab to be re-tested and a new test be conducted in the days following Thursday’s announcement.” Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters, updated at 2:30 p.m. ET
Several U.S. states on Monday planned to ease more restrictions on businesses even as President Donald Trump acknowledged that as many as 100,000 Americans could die in the pandemic, exceeding recent White House projections.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine was allowing construction and manufacturing to reopen, and letting office workers return. Retail shops and many consumer services are due to resume operations on May 12.
To reopen, businesses must meet state requirements that workers wear face coverings and stay at least two metres apart, and employers sanitize their workplaces. DeWine has urged as many workers as possible to work from home.
About half of all U.S. states have lifted shutdowns, at least partially, as the number of new cases of the COVID-19 illness has begun to decline or level off in many places, though infections are still rising in others.
Health experts have warned of a possible resurgence of the virus if states rush to restart their battered economies too early and without a widespread testing and tracing network in place.
COVID-19 has infected more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 68,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people. That’s a horrible thing,” Trump said on Fox News on Sunday night.
As recently as Friday, the president had said he hoped fewer than 100,000 Americans would die and earlier in the week had talked of 60,000 to 70,000 deaths.
As of last week, the University of Washington’s IHME predictive model, often cited by White House officials and state public health authorities, projected a first wave of 72,400 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on Sunday the country was seeing a “mixed bag” of results from mitigation efforts.
He said about 20 states had experienced a rising number of new cases including Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Virginia reported a record number of deaths on Sunday, up 44 for a total of 660.
“We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we’re just not seeing that,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “If we don’t snuff this out more and you have this slow burn of infection, it can ignite at any time.”
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has received no evidence or data from the U.S. government to back up claims by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that they have seen evidence that the coronavirus have originated at a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“From our perspective, this remains speculative,” WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said. “But like any evidence-based organization, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus.”
Ryan reiterated that the evidence and advice that the UN health agency has received suggest that the novel coronavirus is of natural origin.
“If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the United States government to decide whether and when it can be shared,” Ryan told reporters in Geneva. “But it’s difficult for WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that specific regard.”
In Italy, The number of people currently positive for coronavirus has dropped to below 100,000. As Europe’s hardest-hit country began a gradual reopening from a two-month-long lockdown on Monday, Italy registered the lowest number of new positives since the day the lockdown took effect, at 1,221, bringing the total of coronavirus cases to 211,938 since the first case of domestic transmission of the virus was detected on Feb. 21.
Russia reported a steady rise in the number of infections Monday, fuelling concerns the nation’s hospitals could be overwhelmed. The country’s coronavirus response centre reported 10,581 new cases for a total of 145,268, as well as 76 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,356. Authorities say that broader testing has contributed to a surge.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has recovered from COVID-19, is widely expected to announce a further extension to its lockdown as the U.K.’s coronavirus-related death toll heads toward becoming Europe’s highest. The U.K. has 28,446 deaths, second in the continent to Italy. Jonathan Van-Tam, the country’s deputy chief medical officer, said at the government’s daily briefing on Monday that the number of positive cases in the country remains too high.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that he will extend Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency by about a month. Abe said the number of new cases has not declined enough and hospitals remain overburdened. Japan has more than 15,000 cases with 510 deaths.Abe asked people to voluntarily reduce social interactions by up to 80 per cent, but stopped short of asking businesses to close. Tokyo and several other prefectures have asked nightclubs, fitness centres, museums and other non-essential businesses to shut.
Bangladesh has extended its nationwide lockdown by nearly two weeks to May 16. The extension came as the South Asian nation crossed the 10,000 mark of infections. The lockdown affects almost all public and private offices and businesses. Essential services as well as garment factories and pharmaceutical and other export-oriented manufacturing units are also operating.
India has relaxed some lockdown restrictions as the pace of infections has slightly accelerated. On Monday, some economic activities resumed after a near-total five-week halt. Normal life, albeit with masks, social distancing and stringent hygiene standards, has started to return in low-risk areas, while constraints on movement and work continues elsewhere. India has about 42,500 confirmed cases, including 1,373 deaths, and has tested more than a million samples. Still, at 758 tests per million, it is among the countries with the lowest portion of their population tested.
Nigeria began easing restrictions on Monday in its capital Abuja and in largest city Lagos, heralding the reopening of Africa’s biggest economy after more than four weeks of lockdowns. The country has confirmed 2,558 infections and 87 deaths since recording its first case at the end of February, a much lower toll than those seen in COVID-19 hotspots in Europe and the United States.
Rwanda, Namibia and Zimbabwe also began loosening their lockdowns on Monday.
Chile’s health ministry said on Monday that the world’s top copper producer has 20,643 confirmed cases, 980 more than the previous day, and 10 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 270. Chile, one of South America’s most developed countries, has won praise for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, conducting more than 200,000 tests, shutting down schools and businesses soon after the first case was confirmed at the start of March and operating rolling quarantines.
Edited by Harry Miller
Ontario, Quebec continue to account for majority of Canada’s new novel coronavirus cases – Globalnews.ca
Despite hundreds of new novel coronavirus cases still being reported in Ontario and Quebec, the number of overall cases across Canada continued to trend downward Friday.
More than 600 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday raised the national tally past 94,000 cases overall. More than 52,000 people are considered recovered, with more than 1.9 million tests conducted.
The national death toll went up by 66 deaths, for a total of 7,703.
Quebec accounted for the majority of the daily death toll once again. The province has been the hardest-hit region in Canada for the past few weeks, with 55 per cent of the national caseload and nearly 5,000 deaths (more than 60 per cent of Canada’s death toll).
Quebec reported 50 new deaths and 255 new cases on Friday. More than 17,700 people are deemed recovered in the province.
Ontario reported 344 new cases and 15 new deaths, leaving the province with nearly 30,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths. More than 23,000 people have recovered from the virus.
Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals
B.C. reported one new case and one new death, for a total of 2,628 cases and 167 deaths. The province has seen 2,272 people recover so far.
The Prairie provinces recorded new cases in the single digits. Alberta saw seven new cases — the lowest daily number recorded by the province since March 12.
All four Atlantic provinces reported no new cases or deaths on Friday. Prince Edward Island’s 27 cases have been resolved for weeks now, Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases left out of 261 cases and three deaths, and Nova Scotia, where 61 people have died so far, saw bars and restaurants reopen.
New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday and has mandated face coverings in public buildings. Out of 136 cases, 121 are recovered.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data
The Northwest Territories and the Yukon continue to see no new cases, having resolved all their cases for some time. Nunavut remain the only region in Canada that hasn’t reported a positive case of COVID-19 so far.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 6.7 million cases and nearly 394,000 deaths, according to figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News
A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.
“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.
“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”
Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.
Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.
The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.
Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.
“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential. And that it is expensive.”
With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello
Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News
Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.
Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.
The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.
“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible.
For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.
“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.
Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.
For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.
The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.
NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS
In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.
One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.
The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.
“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”
Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.
“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.”
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