Canada hit a grim milestone Wednesday as the number of deaths across the country from COVID-19 exceeded 2,000, and later the number of overall cases topped 40,000. More than half of the deaths have come in long-term care homes, which have been hard hit by the pandemic, particularly in Quebec and Ontario.
The news came as Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced he will be calling in the military to help deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the province’s long-term care homes.
Ford says he will formally request extra resources from the federal government today, including from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Forces personnel, specifically to help in five priority homes. He compared the situation in long-term care settings to a “raging wildfire” during his Wednesday news conference.
Canadian Forces personnel have already been deployed to Quebec to help out in the hard hit long-term care facilities there. On Wednesday, Premier François Legault said he’s asked the federal government to send 1,000 additional soldiers to help staff the institutions.
Legault told reporters at his daily briefing that he made the request because the province has not been able to find enough trained workers to meet the system’s immediate needs, even after bringing in 350 medical specialists, as well as other nurses from elsewhere and nursing students.
The number of residences in Quebec considered to be in a “critical situation” nearly doubled in the past week, going from 41 to 80.
In all, approximately 850 of the 1,041 people who have died from COVID-19 in Quebec were residents of CHSLDs or seniors’ homes.
In Ontario, 128 residences are currently dealing with active COVID-19 outbreaks. As of today, there have been at least 448 deaths in long-term care amid outbreaks at 127 facilities.
Ontario is also expanding COVID-19 testing to every resident and worker in long-term care homes.
Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto’s Sinai Health System, says testing is only one part of the problem.
“We can test everyone and have the info to show the extent of the problem, but can you actually act on that information?” he said in an interview with CBC News. “Do you actually have the space to isolate people so that you’re not causing more spread within the home?
“Do you have the personal protective equipment to support having staff members go between residents’ rooms? Do you have the health and human resources to provide the care that they need?”
WATCH | Dr. Nathan Small says not enough attention was given to long-term care homes during pandemic planning.
Speaking at the daily briefing by cabinet members and federal health officials, Tam again said that continued vigilance is essential and highlighted the continued concern around long-term care facilities.
“As we continue to make progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing some bumps in the road that remind us we can’t let down our guard.”
Tam said protections are also needed at other high-risk settings where people live in close contact and share common spaces, citing seniors’ homes and homeless shelters.
WATCH | WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan says countries will need to figure out how to minimize risk in long-term care homes:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday reiterated that the federal government is talking with provinces around support for long-term care homes, which are provincially regulated. Trudeau last week said the federal government was planning to consult with the provinces on topping-up wages of lower paid essential workers, but it’s not yet clear how or when that might happen.
Restarting the economy
Trudeau also said the federal government is co-ordinating with provinces and territories about how to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic — but he said each will make its own decision given the different circumstances of every region.
“We recognize that different provinces will make different decisions about how and where to start restarting and reopening their economies,” Trudeau said Wednesday during his daily briefing.
The decision around when to reopen the border with the U.S. is a nationwide measure and any change in that decision will come from the federal government, he said.
WATCH | Ontario calls for military help for long-term care:
A federal official Wednesday expressed concerns that Indigenous communities will face elevated risks of COVID-19 infections once provinces and urban centres begin easing lockdown restrictions.
Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, says COVID-19 rates in Indigenous communities are currently running below the national percentage due to protection efforts.
“There are communities that are 20 minutes from an urban centre. Some communities are in the middle of an urban centre. It is impossible for those communities to be completely closed off if cities decide to open up their operations.”
Trudeau’s remarks come a day after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam made similar remarks. Tam, who was speaking at a daily briefing on Tuesday, urged continued vigilance around public health measures and said steps taken by Canadians across the country to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have prevented an explosion of cases.
Tam said Tuesday that health officials across the country are closely monitoring for “continued and stable slowing of the epidemic” as they plan for what comes next.
“But we are still a ways off and the path remains uncertain,” Tam said, adding that she knows questions around recovery and what comes next are on everyone’s mind. While there are a lot of unknowns about the path forward, Tam said the actions Canadians have taken in recent weeks have been critical to slowing the spread of the virus.
“There is no doubt that our sacrifices and every day inconveniences over the past weeks have prevented an explosive outbreak in Canada like the ones that have overwhelmed health-care systems in places like Italy, Spain and New York.”
The virus, which was first identified in China in late 2019, causes an illness called COVID-19. There’s no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus, though researchers around the world are searching for potential treatments.
Support for students
Strict public health measures meant to clamp down on the virus have led to huge financial strain for families and businesses, as well as for governments tasked with overseeing the response and assisting those who have lost income.
The federal government and provinces have launched a range of initiatives aimed at supporting families and businesses, but some critics argue that the funding has been both too narrow and too slow.
Trudeau on Wednesday said the government plans to roll out funding and expanded job placement programs for post-secondary students who are struggling to find enough work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left thousands of Canadians infected and prompted health officials to introduce a range of measures aimed at keeping people home.
WATCH | Trudeau outlines aid available for students:
Trudeau outlined a number of initiatives targeted at students, including supports for students who fill certain volunteer roles.
The prime minister said the government will work with opposition parties to pass legislation around the student supports.
As of 6 p.m. ET, there were 2,074 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, plus two reported COVID-19-linked deaths of Canadians abroad, according to a CBC News tally based on provincial and local health data, as well as CBC reporting.
There are 40,190 confirmed and presumptive cases, and 13,994 resolved cases among the provinces and territories that make such data public.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia Premier John Horgan says he wants to be cautious about reopening the province. He says two recent outbreaks at the Mission prison and at a Vancouver poultry processing plant are warnings that the public can’t be complacent about the virus. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta has launched a website to help people find places to volunteer during the pandemic. Premier Jason Kenney said the Alberta Cares Connector will let people find local charities that need help. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
WATCH | COVID-19 outbreak forces Alberta meat-processing plant to close:
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province’s plan to reopen has five phases, beginning next month. In a televised address Wednesday evening, he said, “if we move too quickly, we risk increasing the spread of COVID-19. If we move too slowly, we risk permanent damage to the livelihoods of thousands of Saskatchewan people.” The government will say on Thursday which businesses will be allowed to reopen in each phase. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
A Manitoba couple is urging people to stay home and take COVID-19 seriously after recovering from the virus. “It escalated very quickly,” said Kristie Walker, who tested positive after returning from the U.S. “It felt like you were in a car accident. Everything hurt. Absolutely everything.” Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Another Ontario long-term care home is reporting COVID-19-related deaths. Hawthorne Place Care Centre in northwest Toronto said Tuesday that five deaths of residents have been attributed to COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
WATCH | When will Ontario start easing restrictions? Hear what experts say:
In Quebec, COVID-19 has swept through a Montreal hospital, affecting patients in five wards, including those being treated for cancer and diabetes. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including details around a recent outbreak at a Montreal hospital.
New Brunswick has launched a web portal where people can access results of their COVID-19 test. Read more about what’s happening in N.B., including details about what the province is planning around reopening.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says the province will waive extra pharmacy dispensing fees for those enrolled in family pharmacare and seniors pharmacare. Because of COVID-19, people can only get a 30-day supply of medication, and each refill costs $4.49 to $12.99. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island’s premier and top health official say they hope to lift some of the restrictions put in place to deal with COVID-19 by early May. “It’s going to involve a process with consultation and a risk assessment with industry, government departments, businesses and communities,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I, including the latest on what’s happening with the lobster season.
WATCH | COVID-19 may trigger potentially deadly immune response:
In Newfoundland and Labrador, chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province will be able to relax some distancing measures in the near future, but warns that residents shouldn’t expect a full return to normal any time soon. There have been no new cases reported in the province for five days. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
The Northwest Territories is handing out $1.6 million in low-interest loans to businesses affected by COVID-19 and the rules in place to slow it. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 7 p.m. ET
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his apparent support on Wednesday for governors planning to start reopening their economies this week.
“States are safely coming back. Our Country is starting to OPEN FOR BUSINESS again,” he tweeted, though it is not yet clear how safe it will be.
A handful of mostly southern states have announced they will begin loosening economic restrictions later this week. The Republican governors of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio all announced on Monday they would begin peeling back the curbs on commerce and social activity aimed at stopping the coronavirus outbreak over the next two weeks. Colorado’s Democratic governor said on Tuesday he would open retail stores on May 1.
Later, during the daily White House briefing, Trump said he told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that he disagrees with his decision to reopen certain facilities in the state, but believes Kemp should do what he thinks is right.
The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at more than 840,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The database puts the U.S. coronavirus-related death toll at more than 46,000.
WATCH | Frustration over COVID-19 lockdown boils over at Pennsylvania protest:
Amid those reopenings, the U.S. government announced on Wednesday that it will assess whether the World Health Organization is being run the way that it should be, after Trump paused U.S. funding to the global body.
Washington will also use this pause to look for alternative partners outside the WHO to continue to carry out “important work” such as vaccines, to ensure it does not have a disruption in its aid efforts, said USAID’s acting administrator, John Barsa.
An Iowa pork plant critical to the nation’s pork supply suspended operations Wednesday after more than 180 infections were linked to it. Officials still expect that number to rise dramatically, while testing of the Tyson Foods plant’s 2,800 workers is expected to begin Friday.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 4 p.m. ET
Spain, one of the world’s worst-hit countries, is planning to allow children out of their homes next week for the first time in nearly six weeks. “I am aware of the tremendous effort that the confinement has demanded of our smallest ones and their families,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. The country’s death toll reached nearly 22,000, behind only the United States and Italy, after 435 more deaths were reported Wednesday. The numbers reflect a plateauing of the outbreak, though on Wednesday the government still voted to extend Spain’s lockdown until May 9.
The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France increased by 544 to 21,340 on Wednesday, the fourth-highest casualty tally in the world, and trailing just a few hundred behind Spain. France’s increase was at a rate of 2.6 per cent, the same as Tuesday, and remained well below the four to five per cent rates seen a week ago.
Britain’s government plans to test a sample of 20,000 households for the coronavirus in the coming weeks to try to establish how far the disease has spread across the country. Health Minister Matt Hancock said Thursday the research would help the government better understand the trajectory of the disease, and that the results would be available in early May. More than 18,000 British people have died in hospital of COVID-19 so far, and the country is now in its fifth week of lockdown.
Turkey has brought the coronavirus outbreak under control, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday, as data showed deaths from the virus increasing by 117 to 2,376, with 3,083 confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.
Brazil’s new health minister, Nelson Teich expressed doubts Wednesday about projections that have guided governors’ decisions on how to handle the coronavirus outbreak. Teich says it is impossible that estimates for total death counts vary so much, adding there needs to be a standard model of analysis. Teich took office on Friday after President Jair Bolsonaro fired his predecessor, whose repeated support for governors’ stay-at-home measures ran counter to Bolsonaro’s position that the Brazilian economy needs to keep moving.
Singapore’s coronavirus infections surged past 10,000 after it reported 1,016 new cases Wednesday. The tiny city-state’s tally rose to 10,141, maintaining its position as the worst-hit nation in Southeast Asia. The health ministry said the vast majority of the new cases are again linked to foreign workers’ dormitories, which have been locked down and where virus testing has been ramped up to curb transmission.
China on Wednesday again reported no new deaths from the coronavirus, but registered 30 more cases — 23 of them brought from abroad. Of the domestic cases, all seven were reported in Heilongjiang province near the Russian border, where a field hospital has been set up to deal with a new flare-up related to people coming home from abroad.
Just over 1,000 people are hospitalized for treatment, while about the same number are under isolation and monitoring as either suspected cases or after testing positive but showing no symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,632 deaths among 82,788 cases, the bulk of them in Wuhan where officials recently raised the death toll by 50 per cent after a review of records.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought support for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic — including the response of the World Health Organization — in phone calls with U.S. President Donald Trump, and the German and French leaders overnight. Later Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell responded, saying that any apportioning of blame could threaten international co-operation to confront the pandemic. “We will only defeat the pandemic through global efforts and co-operation,” Borrell said, “and this co-operation cannot be jeopardized by blaming one or the other about the origins.”
Borrell also commented on Iran, saying the EU has urged the United States to ease sanctions and approve economic aid to help the country deal with the pandemic. Borrell said its calls were rejected.
Borrell went on to say that the EU is aiming to set up a humanitarian air bridge to help move aid, equipment and facilities to parts of Africa hit hardest by the coronavirus. Borrell says the bloc’s executive arm, the European Commission, has “means and tools” and will study ways to proceed. He provided no details about how it would work or when it might be operational.
The total death toll from the coronavirus in Bangladesh reached 120, while the number of total infections rose to 3,772 with another 390 positive cases on Wednesday, an official said. Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, said another 10 people, including seven men and three women, died over the last 24 hours amid growing concern that the upward trend could continue over the next few weeks as community transmission has taken place across the country.
Reports say many positive cases are asymptomatic, which poses a serious threat to the community. A nationwide lockdown is in place until Saturday to help contain the virus’s spread.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 500 billion-rand rescue package, equivalent to 10 per cent of the GDP of Africa’s most industrialized nation, to try to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexico reported on Wednesday it now has over 10,000 cases of COVID-19, the fifth-highest tally in Latin America, as containment measures and rock-bottom crude prices wreak economic havoc on the oil-producing country. Earlier, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday that his government will increase the budget for social programs and critical projects by $25.6 billion US in order to address the coronavirus crisis.
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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