Eligible Canadians who lost income because of COVID-19 can start applying for a new emergency benefit program on Monday as the government tries to keep people afloat during a pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives worldwide.
People born in January, February and March can apply for the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) as of Monday. The system, run through the Canada Revenue Agency, staggers the application window for people born in later months as the week goes on.
The emergency funding program, which offers eligible applicants $2,000 a month for a period of up to four months, is just one of the measures the Canadian government has launched to try and buoy families and businesses feeling the fallout of the virus, which has to date resulted in nearly 1.3 million reported cases around the world.
According to a database maintained by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, nearly 70,000 people have died as a result of the virus, which was first reported in China’s Hubei province in late 2019. The true numbers are certainly much higher due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.
More than 15,500 of the cases are in Canada, with cases recorded in every province and territory except Nunavut. As of 6 a.m ET on Monday, officials had reported 307 COVID-19 related deaths in Canada. The provinces and territories that offer information on people who have recovered listed more than 3,100 COVID-19 cases as resolved.
Public health officials have cautioned that the numbers, which don’t include the deaths of two Canadians abroad, don’t provide a full picture of the outbreak as they fail to capture cases that haven’t been tested or are still under investigation.
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The vast majority of infected people recover from the virus, formally known as SARS CoV-2, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes.
For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia and death.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says risk varies between communities but notes that the illness poses a serious health threat to Canadians and pegs the risk level as high.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, the top public health official is warning people not to let up on physical distancing. “This is our time to remain unwavering in our commitment. To keep our firewall strong,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said over the weekend. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported three new COVID-19 deaths and 69 new cases on Sunday. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, including the story of one woman who brought her elderly mother home amid concern about potential outbreaks in seniors’ homes.
Saskatchewan recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total to 249. Premier Scott Moe has said that his government will provide more information this week on both provincial modelling and how the province is preparing for an expected increase in cases. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba’s largest city has closed an underground concourse and downtown skywalk as part of the ongoing effort to stamp out COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, including an initiative to house some homeless people who are considered at risk of contracting COVID-19 at a Brandon motel.
A hard-hit nursing home in small-town Ontario reported another death linked to COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the Pinecrest nursing home up to 23. The province has 4,038 reported cases, and CBC News tallies put the number of COVID-19 related deaths at 146. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec’s shutdown on non-essential activity will run until at least May 4. “If we relax our efforts, we’ll just delay the moment when we’ll be able to go back to our lives,” said Premier François Legault. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including what police said after a security guard was hit by a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot.
New Brunswick’s premier is warning that the province, which currently has 101 reported COVID-19 cases, will see more. “That is why we are doing everything we can to fight this,” said Blaine Higgs. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia is going to step up testing of areas with “clusters” of COVID-19 cases. The province’s health authority has also created a mobile assessment centre staffed by paramedics that can move from one area to another. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.Prince Edward Island students begin virtual learning Monday. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., which has reported 22 COVID-19 cases to date.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, chief medical officer of health Janice Fitzgerald announced 14 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, for a total of 217. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including the premier’s remarks on a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to limit the export of critical medical masks.
In the Northwest Territories, health officials have confirmed a fifth case of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North, including a Yukon government program that is providing vulnerable women with cellphones.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 6 a.m. ET
The U.S. surgeon general says that Americans should brace for levels of tragedy reminiscent of the Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the nation’s infectious disease chief warned that the novel coronavirus may never be completely eradicated from the globe.
Those were some of the most grim assessments yet for the immediate future and beyond. But hours later, President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence tried to strike more optimistic tones, suggesting that hard weeks ahead could be a prelude to an eventual turn.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said at a Sunday evening White House briefing. Pence added, “We are beginning to see glimmers of progress.”
The president also insisted that both assessments from his administration — they came within 12 hours of each other — didn’t represent an about-face or were even “that different.”
“I think we all know that we have to reach a certain point — and that point is going to be a horrific point in terms of death — but it’s also a point at which things are going to start changing,” Trump said. “We’re getting very close to that level right now.”
The president added that he thought the next two weeks “are going to be very difficult. At the same time, we understand what they represent and what that time represents and, hopefully, we can get this over with.”
Still, Trump’s own briefing also struck a sombre tone at times. The president offered some of his most extensive comments to date to the families of those killed by the virus, urging the nation to pray for them and “ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief.”
“With the faith of our families and the spirit of our people and the grace of our God we will endure,” the president said. “We will overcome.”
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Earlier Sunday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly.”
The nation’s top doctor went on to say: “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
Also Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the toll in the coming week is “going to be shocking to some, but that’s what is going to happen before it turns around, so just buckle down.”
He said the virus probably won’t be wiped out entirely this year, and that unless the world gets it under control, it will “assume a seasonal nature.”
“We need to be prepared that, since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why we’re pushing so hard in getting our preparedness much better than it was.”
The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 337,000, with the death toll climbing past 9,600. More than 4,100 of those deaths are in the state of New York, but a glimmer of hope there came on Sunday when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state registered a small dip in new fatalities over a 24-hour period. Still, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said his state may run out of ventilators by week’s end.
Here’s what’s happening in hard-hit Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6 a.m. ET
Italy reported its lowest daily death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday, as the health minister outlined plans for broader testing and beefed-up health services as part of measures following a future easing of the lockdown.
Coronavirus-related fatalities and recorded infections continued to drop on Monday in Spain, although authorities warned of possible distortions by a slower reporting of figures over the weekend. The country’s health ministry reported 637 new deaths for the previous 24 hours, the lowest fatality toll in 13 days, for a total of over 13,000 since the pandemic hit the country. New recorded infections were also the lowest in two weeks: 4,273, bringing the total of confirmed cases over 135,000.
Hospitals are also reporting that the pace of incoming patients to their emergency wards is slowing down, giving a much needed respite to overburdened medical workers.
France reported a slowing daily death toll, and Germany its fourth straight day with a drop in new cases.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly in good spirits following his first night in the hospital for what his office described as a “precautionary step” after contracting the new coronavirus. Johnson remains in charge of government despite being sent to St Thomas’ Hospital after COVID-19 symptoms of a cough and fever persisted. His spokesperson, James Slack. says he remains in hospital under observation.
The 55-year-old leader is the first known head of government to fall ill with the virus.He has released several video messages during his 10 days in isolation.
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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says his government aims to start allowing some shops to reopen next week at the beginning of a long, phased return to normal life. Kurz said that the aim is to allow small shops and garden centres to reopen next Tuesday, with a limited number of customers who must wear masks. He said the government hopes to reopen the rest of the shops, as well as hairdressing salons, on May 1. Restaurants and hotels won’t be able to open until at least mid-May. Events will remain banned until the end of June.
The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has topped 6,000 after the largest daily spike in new infections since the start of the outbreak.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit China, South Korea, Japan and other areas of concern
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6 a.m. ET
China on Monday reported 39 new cases of coronavirus infection — 38 of them imported — one additional death, 10 suspected cases and 1,047 asymptomatic cases under observation.
There were no new confirmed or suspected cases in the epicentre city of Wuhan, where a 14-week lockdown is due to be lifted on Wednesday. China has now recorded a total of 81,708 cases and 3,331 deaths.
South Korea has reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus and three more fatalities, bringing its totals to 10,284 infections and 186 deaths. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said at least 769 of the infections were linked to passengers arriving from overseas, with most of the cases detected in the past three weeks in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.
The country’s caseload has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, but officials have raised concern over a steady rise in infections imported from overseas or occurring in hospitals, nursing homes and other live-in facilities.
Japan will declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday, media reported, as a shortage of beds and a rise in cases linked to hospitals are pushing Tokyo’s medical system to the brink of collapse. The U.S. forces, meanwhile, declared a public health emergency for its military bases in eastern Japan.
Singapore has placed nearly 20,000 foreign workers under quarantine in their dormitories after an increasing number in the community were found to be infected with COVID-19.
India is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as its cases topped 3,350 despite a three-week nationwide lockdown.
Malaysia on Monday reported 131 new coronavirus infections, raising the country’s total to 3,793 cases, the highest in Southeast Asia. The Health Ministry has recorded 62 deaths, including one more reported as of noon Monday.
Currently able to conduct 5,000 tests per day, South Africa will increase its capacity to more than 30,000 per day by the end of the April, according to the National Health Laboratory Service. South Africa was one of only two countries in Africa that could test for the novel coronavirus when it began its global spread in January. Now at least 43 of the continent’s 54 countries can, but many have limited capacity.
Mexico said total cases were 2,143, an increase of 253 cases from a day earlier. The number of deaths rose by 15 to 94.
Haiti on Sunday reported its first death, with 21 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease.
Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved a constitutional amendment for a “war budget” to separate coronavirus-related spending from the government’s main budget and shield the economy as the country surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases.
Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer – CBC.ca
The chances of large parts of Ontario moving soon to Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan are looking bright as the spread of the coronavirus remains slow in most public health units.
It’s been nearly three weeks since all of eastern and northern Ontario, as well as much of the southwestern part of the province, advanced to Stage 2. That allowed the opening of shopping malls, hair salons, swimming pools, and bar and restaurant patios.
Data from those 24 public health units — everywhere but the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Lambton and Haldimand-Norfolk — show the spread of the virus remains largely contained.
“We hope to be able to move into the next stage as soon as possible,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday.
“It’s looking very good, but we still need another week’s data to really inform the situation, and then decisions will be made about the opening of Stage 3.”
More than half of Ontario’s 34 public health units currently have fewer than 10 active cases (coronavirus cases that are considered to still be infectious). Fifteen health units have three or fewer active cases.
The parts of the province that were first to advance to Stage 2 — including Ottawa, Waterloo Region and London — have a combined population of nearly six million. In these areas, since restrictions were eased on June 12:
- The combined number of new cases daily has averaged 27, down from a daily average of 34 in the four preceding weeks.
- The number of new cases reported daily has remained below 35 on all but one day.
The trend in the daily number of new cases is the statistic watched most closely by health officials in determining whether restrictions can be lifted.
Provincial-level discussions are currently happening about when to announce Stage 3, Elliott said. She said the decisions to be made include which parts of the province would move ahead and which measures would be relaxed.
“We have to do it safely,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We will do it safely, and we’re going to do it in steps as we did before. We just have to continue seeing the numbers go in the right direction.”
Provincial officials have said any announcements about progressing to the next stage would be made on Mondays.
An announcement on Stage 3 could come within the next week or so, according to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for eastern Ontario. He told a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday that officials are looking at increasing the maximum size of gatherings and allowing customers inside restaurants.
Specific Stage 3 changes not yet clear
The province has not laid out precisely what changes will come in Stage 3 of the reopening. Its general framework released back in April suggested Stage 3 would mean “opening all workplaces responsibly” and “further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings.”
Even with a move to Stage 3, mass gatherings such as concerts and spectator sports events would remain prohibited “for the foreseeable future,” the framework says.
Restrictions currently in place in Stage 2 that could be eased include the closure of playgrounds, the 10-person limit on social gatherings, and the ban on indoor seating at restaurants and bars.
While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is a crucial metric for determining the timing of Stage 3, the other measures that are considered include the availability of hospitals beds, speed of testing, and effectiveness of tracing close contacts of each person who tests positive.
Some public health units see mandatory mask usage in indoor public settings as a key tool in preventing outbreaks and advancing to Stage 3.
“We want to move to Stage 3,” Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, said while presenting evidence in favour of a mask policy during a news briefing on Monday. “We want all the businesses to be open. We want people to be able to continue to get back to work.”
The public health unit covering Kingston — which previously had among the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the province — ordered masks to be worn in indoor public places in response to an outbreak at a nail salon that is now linked to 27 confirmed cases.
Mask wearing, handwashing likely to remain
The ability to prevent and contain local outbreaks will be one of the province’s considerations about whether a public health unit is ready to move to Stage 3, said Dr. Chris Mackie, the London-Middlesex medical officer of health.
The province is “watching the data carefully and not rushing into a Stage 3 reopening, which I think is appropriate,” Mackie said on Tuesday in a news conference.
The province will take the lead on the decisions about Stage 3, according to Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo, among the first public health units to advance to Stage 2.
“When we reach Stage 3, it is very likely that many of our current heath measures, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing, will remain in effect,” Wang said in a statement to CBC News.
Canada to ban 'nuisance seals' killing to keep access to U.S. market – CBC.ca
Canada will abolish permits that allow the killing of “nuisance seals” by commercial fishermen and aquaculture in an effort to maintain access to the lucrative U.S. seafood market, CBC News has learned.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada plans to eliminate nuisance-seal licences. Earlier this spring, the department told commercial fisheries associations that nuisance permits will no longer be issued. Canadian fish farms voluntarily stopped killing seals in 2018.
“DFO is making this change in order to ensure continued access to the U.S. fish and seafood market, a market worth about $5 billion annually to Canada,” DFO spokesperson Benoit Mayrand said.
By Jan. 1, 2022, all countries with fisheries interacting with marine mammals that export to the U.S. will have to demonstrate they have marine mammal protections that are the same or of comparable effectiveness to measures taken in the U.S..
DFO intends to adopt regulatory language aligned with the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act’s import provisions, Mayrand said.
Scotland also banning practice
The U.S. exempts killing marine mammals under specific circumstances, such as where it is imminently necessary to protect human health and safety, and under the Good Samaritan exemption, where the humane dispatch of a seal will avoid serious injury, additional injury, or death to a seal entangled in fishing gear or debris.
DFO said it will post its plans for public comment in coming weeks.
Earlier this month, Scotland announced it will eliminate permits to shoot nuisance seals. Scotland is also keenly aware that market access is at stake.
Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish minister responsible for that portfolio, told the Scottish parliament that its new rules will match the U.S. rules.
“It will ensure that we can still export farmed fish to the United States of America in future. That is one of our most important markets; it was worth £178 million (about $301 million) in 2019,” she said on June 17.
Canada’s aquaculture industry already on board
Tim Kennedy, president and CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, wrote to DFO in a letter dated Dec. 21, 2018.
“The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance would like to state our members’ commitment to ‘no intentional mammal kill’ practices in our seafood farming operations within Canada. We maintain an exception for the very rare possibility of the endangerment of human health, as per the exception in the MMPA legislation,” Kennedy wrote.
The association says it represents 95 per cent Canadian fish farms and shellfish operations.
“This was quite a major step of the Canadian industry to move forward and make this commitment because the population of seals on the East Coast and sea lions on the West Coast have really increased dramatically,” Kennedy told CBC News.
He said producers are now using steel-hardened nets to keep seals out.
‘A critical market issue’
About 80 per cent of the Atlantic salmon grown in Canada gets exported to the U.S..
“This is a critical market-access issue. So with the time being right and with the industry moving in this direction anyway, the formalization of the commitment, I think, made a lot of sense,” Kennedy said.
DFO says in 2018, 66 seals were reported killed under nuisance-seal licences in Atlantic Canada. In 2019, 95 were reported killed.
But that may be an underestimation of how many are killed by fishermen.
On the East Coast, huge grey seal colonies are often blamed by commercial fishermen for the slow recovery of groundfish stocks.
In a 2016 assessment of the grey seal population, DFO scientists estimated a total of 3,732 grey seals were killed in the region — but that number came with a caveat.
“Nuisance-seal licences are issued to fishermen that report seals causing damage to fishing gear or catches,” said DFO’s assessment. “They are required to report the number of seals they have removed, but most fishermen do not provide this information.”
A nuisance-seal licence is different from a commercial-harvest seal licence and the proposed amendments will have no impacts on the directed seal harvest, DFO said.
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