Canada hit another grim milestone in the COVID-19 crisis today, with the number of deaths exceeding 3,000. As of early evening, there were 3,133 deaths, and 51,597 cases.
The news came just after Manitoba became the latest province to release details on how it plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions and restart some sectors of the economy, with Premier Brian Pallister saying people will be dealing with a new normal as officials try to prevent a “COVID comeback.”
Pallister said some restrictions will be lifted beginning May 4. Non-urgent health care, ranging from dentistry and physiotherapy to elective surgery, will be allowed to operate again. Rules around outdoor recreation will also be loosened, though physical distancing will still be important, the premier said.
Some retail businesses — including clothing stores, restaurant patios and hair salons — will also be allowed to reopen.
“We must remain vigilant, and we must remain committed — we do not want a COVID comeback.”
In all cases, Pallister said, businesses will need to follow public health guidelines and ensure a safe experience for both staff and customers.
WATCH | Manitoba premier details reopening plans:
Pallister said health officials may look at the cap on group gatherings, but he cautioned that large-scale events like festivals and concerts aren’t likely anytime soon.
As for schools, Pallister said Manitoba is in the “early days” of the COVID-19 recovery and the presence of a large number of kids in a school makes social distancing a challenge. The province “isn’t entertaining” the idea of opening schools at this time, he said.
The second phase, which would include more personal services and indoor dining rooms, doesn’t have a firm date attached, but the province said it would be no sooner than June 1.
Pallister’s move came a day after Quebec announced that some businesses in the hard-hit province will be reopening in May, with Premier François Legault saying the challenge is to “gradually restart the economy without restarting the pandemic.”
Canada has more than 50,000 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with more than 3,000 COVID-19-related deaths, according to a CBC News tally based on provincial data, local health information and CBC’s reporting. Quebec accounts for 26,594 of the cases and 1,761 deaths.
Legault outlined a plan that would allow some retail, construction and manufacturing operations to resume at some point next month. But the premier emphasized that the reopening of some businesses doesn’t mean that people should be congregating in groups or ignoring public health guidelines.
He also stressed the importance of continuing to protect the vulnerable, particularly those living in the province’s long-term care homes, which have seen devastating and deadly outbreaks.
At their daily briefing Wednesday, federal health officials stressed that the virus is still spreading, and that people need to keep following the guidelines for lowering the risk, such as physical distancing and hand washing.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam also urged workplaces to have “good plans” for when they start to reopen and employees return.
WATCH | ‘We need to do better,’ says Dr. Theresa Tam:
Prince Edward Island, which has just 27 cases (with 24 considered recovered) also outlined its initial reopening plan on Tuesday. The small province is taking a phased approach — and like Saskatchewan and Quebec, it has attached specific dates to some early stages.
On May 1, P.E.I. will allow non-urgent health care to resume, a move that covers everything from cancer screenings to optometrist visits. There will also be some loosening of social restrictions, as non-related groups of up to five people will be allowed to visit — provided they are outside and at least two metres apart.
Phase 2, which allows small indoor and slightly larger outdoor gatherings, as well as more business openings, is set for May 22. Phase 3, which allows even larger gatherings and reopens some personal services, recreation facilities and restaurants in a limited way, is set for June 12. There’s no date attached to Phase 4, which the province describes as the “new normal” for P.E.I.
“We need to be cautious, we need to be careful and we need to be methodical,” P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said. “There are no programs to bring people back from the dead.”
Alberta is expected to outline its reopening plan later this week, though the precise timing is not yet clear.
“Some of this we’re going to have to make final decisions as we get closer to them, based on how well we do,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday. “But I do hope that we will be able to begin reopening aspects of social and economic life that have currently been suspended in the month of May.”
Ontario’s recently revealed plan has a detailed framework outlining what needs to happen before restrictions can be lifted, but Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly described the plan as a roadmap, not a calendar.
WHO defends its response
The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in China in late 2019, causes an illness called COVID-19. Health officials have said most people who contract the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms, but have cautioned that older people and those with underlying health issues face a greater risk of severe illness or death.
There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the virus, though teams of researchers around the world are frantically working to find answers.
The chief of the World Health Organization on Wednesday defended the agency’s response to the coronavirus in a news briefing, saying it had acted “quickly and decisively.”
The Geneva-based UN body has faced mounting criticism in recent weeks, especially from top donor the United States, which has cut off funding.
“From the beginning, the WHO has acted quickly and decisively to respond to warn the world,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after giving a timeline of what the body knew in the lead-up to declaring COVID-19 a global emergency on Jan. 30.
WATCH | ‘We sounded the alarm early and we sounded it often’:
As of 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, there were nearly 3.2 million known cases of the coronavirus around the world, with more than 227,000 deaths, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories, the U.S. and around the world.
What’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia is dealing with outbreaks at two more poultry processing plants, Sofina Foods Inc. and Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry. Eighty COVID-19 cases have been linked to two Metro Vancouver poultry processing facilities that were closed earlier this month. Read more about what’s happening in B.C. including the decision to extend the state of emergency for another two weeks.
The Alberta government is providing emergency payments to thousands of people in northern Alberta who have been evacuated from their homes because of flooding. Premier Jason Kenney announced Wednesday that adult evacuees will be eligible to receive $1,250 and $500 per dependant child. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, including plans to reopen the Cargill meat processing plant.
Saskatchewan announced Wednesday that a sixth person has died from COVID-19 in the province. Health officials say the resident was in their 80s and from the far north region, which is dealing with an outbreak. The province announced 17 new confirmed cases today, with 11 in the remote community of La Loche. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, including details around revised COVID-19 projections.
Manitoba’s premier says the businesses that are allowed to reopen next week will need to follow strict cleaning and distancing protocols. “I want to be clear. This is not an announcement about a return to normal … because the normal will be a new normal,” Brian Pallister said during his briefing on the plan. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Ontario is expanding eligibility for child care in the province. Education Minister Steven Lecce says along with front-line health-care workers, people who work in grocery stores and pharmacies, retirement homes, as well as truckers and other essential workers, may now access child care. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec is getting another 400 soldiers to help out in the province’s overburdened long-term care homes. The soldiers are in addition to those who have been working in the province since April 20. More than 60 per cent of the province’s deaths have occurred in care homes, where absences and illnesses due to COVID-19 have worsened pre-existing understaffing issues. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including a warning from the Montreal mayor that the summer will not be what people are used to.
New Brunswick announced an 11th day of no new cases on Wednesday. But Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said the province is far from the end of the crisis. She encouraged more people to wear a mask when out in the community, saying in time, it will become more normalized. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia schools will be closed until at least May 19. Classes had been set to resume next week, but officials extended the closure due to ongoing concern about COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.S., including about how the province wants to expand testing.
Prince Edward Island reported no new cases again on Wednesday, after reporting one on Tuesday, the first since mid-April.The province has extended the state of emergency in the province until the end of May, but some public health restrictions will start being lifted as of May 1. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I, including full details around its newly released reopening plan.
WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam on WHO response to COVID-19, reopening Canada:
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, leaving the provincial total at 258. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, announced two new orders including one requiring assisted living facilities for seniors to take steps to protect their residents, and another restricting visitors to the province. Read more about what’s happening in N.L
Officials in Yukon are looking at a plan around reopening, but don’t yet have a target date. “If we move too quickly, or without understanding the necessary planning and co-ordination, we risk increasing the spread of COVID-19 in our territory,” Premier Sandy Silver said. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
What’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6:00 p.m. ET
U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday the federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire tomorrow, and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, predicted that by July, the country will be “really rocking again.”
The U.S.death toll has surpassed 60,000 in less than three months, higher than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War over almost two decades.
Kushner described the administration’s response to the pandemic as “a great success story.”
Trump also mentioned at the briefing the hopeful preliminary results of a key clinical trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir that showed it helped certain patients recover more quickly from COVID-19.
The number of known U.S. coronavirus infections has now passed the one million mark. The actual count is believed to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials mean they have limited testing capacity, resulting in an incomplete picture of the spread of the virus.
The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8 per cent annual rate last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record.
It was the sharpest fall since the economy shrank at an 8.4 per cent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008 in the depths of the Great Recession.
Widespread business shutdowns have caused roughly 30 million workers to lose jobs over the past month and a half. As layoffs mount, retail sales are sinking, along with manufacturing, construction, home sales and consumer confidence.
The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future as part of its extraordinary efforts to bolster the economy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida’s restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen Monday at 25 per cent capacity, if the local government allows it. The governor specifically excluded hard-hit, heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, saying their businesses will begin Phase 1 when it is safer.
The governor also will allow hospitals and surgical centres to restart nonessential, elective procedures — but only if they have sufficient medical supplies and agree to help nursing homes and assisted-living facilities prevent and respond to coronavirus outbreaks. Parks, golf courses and other outdoor recreation areas already began reopening in some counties Wednesday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio oversaw the dispersal of a large, tightly packed Hasidic Jewish funeral and lashed out at the mourners who had gathered in defiance of physical distancing rules. Critics accused de Blasio of singling out Orthodox Jews for censure when other New Yorkers have also violated guidelines intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The mayor defended his actions and said the number of daily deaths is still “disgustingly high.” New York reported 330 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, continuing a trend of daily fatalities decreasing slowly over the past three weeks.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6:30 p.m. ET
With 325 new confirmed deaths from coronavirus, Spain on Wednesday saw a slight rebound in fatalities for a total of 24,275 since the beginning of the pandemic. Infections stand at over 212,000, although the Health Ministry’s figure only includes the cases confirmed by the most reliable laboratory tests that are not being conducted massively. Authorities want to come out from a near total freeze of social and economic life in stages and at different speeds depending on how its provinces and islands respond to the health crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic will plunge Germany’s economy into its deepest recession since the Second World War, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Wednesday as the government cut its economic growth forecast for this year. “We’re facing major challenges, both economically and politically,” Altmaier told reporters in Berlin, presenting the government’s updated growth forecast for Europe’s largest economy.
Russia’s nationwide tally of confirmed coronavirus cases neared the 100,000 mark on Wednesday after 5,841 new cases of the virus were registered overnight along with a record daily rise in the death toll. More than 1,000 cases have been found among workers building a liquefied natural gas facility in the far northern Murmansk region.
WATCH | Russians impoverished by COVID-19 pandemic with little help from Kremlin:
Sweden‘s southern city of Lund says it is spreading stinking chicken manure on the grounds of a central park to discourage a public celebration there on Thursday. It’s traditionally a big festive day among Swedish students and youth.
Sweden has maintained a relatively relaxed approach to public restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak. But the government is strongly urging citizens to practise proper social distancing. Sweden, with a population of about 10 million, has reported 19,621 coronavirus cases and 2,355 deaths.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday announced an easing of population movement restrictions outside Budapest, which has reported the most cases of coronavirus infections, saying shops will be allowed to reopen without time limits. However, the wearing of masks will be mandatory in shops and on public transport.
Public health officials in India have shelved their plan to administer hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, an untested anti-malarial, to thousands in Mumbai’s crowded slums as a way of preventing infections in healthy people. Health officials in Mumbai said that the plan to “conduct a test” was still on the cards but had not yet been approved by the Indian government.
The United Nations humanitarian chief says there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths in Syria. Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that a health-care system decimated by nine years of war can’t be expected “to cope with a crisis that is challenging even the wealthiest nations.” He says “testing capacity remains very limited,” and measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 are already hurting the most vulnerable.
South Korean infectious disease experts have downplayed concerns that patients could get reinfected with the new coronavirus after fully recovering. While hundreds in South Korea have tested positive again after their release from hospitals, Oh Myoung-don, who heads the country’s central clinical committee on new infectious diseases, told a news conference on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” that such test results were flawed.
Sri Lanka will reimpose a 24-hour countrywide curfew as part of the country’s stringent measures designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, effective Thursday night and continuing until May 4. The government’s decision to go for a blanket curfew across the island comes after a surge of confirmed cases in the last three days. There are now 630 COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, including seven deaths.
WATCH | Vaccine development aided by intense global focus, says Toronto respirologist:
Canada’s daily coronavirus death toll surges from day prior as 705 new cases reported – Globalnews.ca
The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Canada more than doubled from the day prior, with 69 lives reported taken on Tuesday.
A further 705 new cases of COVID-19 were also identified across Canada as the country moved into its second week of daily cases ranging below the 1,000 mark.
Tuesday’s numbers brings Canada’s total lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths to 92,399 and 7,395, respectively.
Of those total cases, over 50,000 people have recovered from the virus. Canada-wide coronavirus tests have also surpassed 1.8 million.
Ontario, which reported 446 new cases surpassed the total reported by Quebec at 239 for the second straight day however.
Until Monday, Quebec was generally considered the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak as both daily reported cases and deaths within the province topped the country over the course of the pandemic.
Both cases and deaths within the eastern province account for more than half of Canada’s totals.
Several other provinces have also announced new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Coronavirus around the world: June 2, 2020
British Columbia reported only four new cases of the virus, whereas Alberta added another 13 infections. No fatalities linked to COVID-19 were reported by either province.
Manitoba also announced two new cases of the virus. The province’s death toll, however, has remained at seven since the first week of May.
In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick was the only province to report a new case of the virus.
More to come…
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
In their own words: political leaders in Canada weigh in on Trump's response to U.S. protests – CBC.ca
Canadian political leaders are weighing in on U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of anti-racism protests sweeping across the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement.
While most leaders were reluctant to single out Trump by name, both Nova Scotia’s premier and Ottawa’s mayor had plenty to say about behaviour that they described as “offensive” and “disgraceful.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau’s answer to a question about Trump’s decision to have protesters moved with tear gas and riot police — so he could have his picture taken outside a church — has been talked about more for what he didn’t say than for what he did say.
The prime minister took 21 seconds to think before delivering an answer that focused on the discrimination faced by people of colour in Canada.
When pressed further to respond to Trump’s threat to call in the military into deal with protesters, the prime minister said his focus was on Canadians, not United States domestic politics.
“My job as a Canadian prime minister is to stand up for Canadians, to stand up for our interests, to stand up for our values,” he said. “That is what have done from the very beginning, that is what I will continue to do.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland
The deputy prime minister followed Trudeau’s position closely, noting that Canada has its own problems with anti-black racism and unconscious bias.
“What I am concerned about, actually, is Canadian complacency. I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country,” she said.
“We as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Ford also avoided directly criticizing how the United States’ leadership has handled the protests, but he did say that he is glad to live in a country that doesn’t suffer from the same racial divisions and systemic racism seen in the U.S.
“They have their issues in the U.S. and they have to fix their issues, but it’s like night and day compared to Canada,” Ford said. “I’m proud to be Canadian. I’m proud to be the premier of Ontario.
“Thank God that we’re different than the United States. We don’t have the systemic, deep roots they’ve had for years … The difference between the U.S. and Canada, for the most part, for the most part — we get along.”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil
McNeil offered a less diplomatic comment when speaking about Floyd’s death and the Trump administration’s response to the protests that followed.
“When you watch what’s happened south of the border, where a black American was killed at the hands of law enforcement, you understand the outrage and hurt and anger that people are feeling,” he said.
“Quite frankly, the political response in the United States has been offensive … to the world.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Watson offered what may have been some of the sharpest criticism of the Trump administration coming from a Canadian politician — singling out the president by name and calling his behaviour throughout the crisis “disgraceful.”
“I think it was disgraceful. Clearing out peaceful protesters so he could have a photo-op holding a Bible,” said Watson.
“Presidents and leaders of organizations should be calming the waters and instill a sense of hope, and not [creating] greater chaos. What we’ve seen in the United States is both sad and remarkable but unfortunately, with this president, somewhat predictable.
“He seems to like to take gas and throw it on the fire.”
'Set our own house in order': Political leaders on racism in Canada – CTV News
As protests spurred by the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue across the United States, federal Canadian politicians delivered special take-note speeches in the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling out the ongoing inequalities in this country and imploring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go beyond “pretty words.”
Trudeau led off the series of speeches with an acknowledgement of anti-black racism in Canada and his own past shortcomings, which included wearing blackface on more occasions than he could concretely say.
“When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes which I deeply regret and continue to learn from… I’m not perfect, but not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing,” Trudeau said.
“I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician,” said the prime minister, adding that the reason he was delivering his speech was to make it clear that the government is listening.
Trudeau said that Canadians who are standing up in this moment and all those who have “felt the weight of oppression” deserve better, committing to working with the opposition parties on eradicating racism in Canada.
REPARATIONS, AN APOLOGY?
However, Trudeau faced questions over the course of the day about the government’s existing policies and whether he was prepared to go further than he’s previously committed to when it comes to addressing the existing inequalities within Canadian society.
Not long after taking a lengthy pause in responding to a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for military action against protesters, Trudeau was asked what his government intends on doing to improve the situation in Canada.
Specifically, he was asked about a 2017 UN Human Rights Council report on the experiences of African Canadians.
The report recommended that the federal government issue an apology and consider providing reparations for enslavement and other historical injustices. Asked if his government intended on doing either, the prime minister could not say.
His response went over the work his government has done and continues to do with the black community as well as the funding being put towards countering systemic and institutional racism and discrimination, but he did not commit to a national apology, something he’s done several times over his tenure as the prime minister for other injustices faced by Canadians.
“We will work with the black community across this country as we have to respond to their priorities. There is a lot to do in Canada and we will do it in partnership with them,” he said.
In the House of Commons, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh challenged Trudeau to use his position of power to “go beyond pretty words, and pretty speeches, and do something.”
Singh, who is the first person of colour to lead a major federal political party in Canada, said that if Trudeau believes that black lives matter, he should commit to ending racial profiling, and the over-incarceration of black people in Canada.
He also noted the ongoing racial inequalities faced by Indigenous people in Canada and called on Trudeau to stop the court proceedings challenging the federal government’s need to compensate First Nations kids affected by a discriminatory child welfare system; and to ensure access to clean water, housing, and education.
“Why do black people, why do Indigenous people need to keep on asking to be treated like a human? Why? You know, people are done with pretty speeches, particularly pretty speeches from people in power that could do something about it right now if they wanted to,” he said.
‘SET OUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER’
Demonstrations have been taking place in Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, in solidarity with those decrying anti-black racism in the United States.
Asked why neither she nor Trudeau said Trump’s name or addressed his leadership decisions during their comments on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said her focus is on addressing “Canadian complacency.”
“I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country, of the reality that we do have systemic discrimination here in Canada,” Freeland said. “I think that we as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
‘WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP’
During his address, outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that Canada “was a beacon of freedom to so many escaping slavery,” and that the country has benefitted as a result, offering examples of Canadians who “overcame” and went on to serve their communities. These include Lincoln Alexander, who was elected in 1968 and was the first black MP and eventually became the first black cabinet minister; and Viola Desmond who challenged segregation and is now pictured on Canadian $10 bills.
“While there are many things that we can point to in our history with pride, that is not to say that we have a perfect record, nor are immune to the threat of racism or that anti-black racism is just an American problem. Canada has had its own dark episodes of racism that cannot be ignored, and sadly not just in our past,” Scheer said.
“No one should be attacked in their community or targeted on the bus because of the colour of their skin,” he said, adding that the fight against any efforts to infringe upon freedoms needs to continue.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet echoed Singh’s calls for political leadership to go beyond words, and suggested the first concrete measure the federal government could take would be to accelerate the processing of asylum claims.
Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May concluded the series of special addresses with an emotional request to her MP colleagues: “We can look at our own conduct and our own behavior… When you see a bully, when you hear hate speech, we have to speak up. We have to speak out,” she said.
“Black lives matter. I want to just do nothing but chant it in this place until we stand together and say black lives matter,” May said.
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