Children in four provinces will be out of school for an extended period as health officials and governments across the country strive to slow the spread of coronavirus, a pandemic that has sparked a state of emergency in the U.S. and a spate of travel restrictions in countries around the world.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation from outside his home, where he is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that was first identified in China. Trudeau said his government would be introducing a “significant” fiscal package in the days ahead.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members.”
The prime minister’s remarks came ahead of a slew of announcements from his cabinet ministers, who offered details around what Canada will do on everything from international airline travel to a $10-billion credit facility for businesses dealing with the fallout from the virus and economic uncertainty.
The Bank of Canada also made a move Friday, announcing an emergency rate cut from 1.25 to 0.75 per cent. The cut is meant to be a “proactive measure taken in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices,” the bank said in a statement.
The government also advised Canadians to avoid all international travel. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, cautioned that people who do travel abroad could get caught up in a quarantine or travel bans imposed by the countries they visit.
Tam, who has reiterated throughout the outbreak the importance of protective measures like proper hand hygiene and staying home while sick, said Friday that people in Canada should take extra steps to stay safe, including measures like social distancing.
“This means avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings, considering shopping or taking public transport in off-peak hours and greeting one another with a wave or elbow instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus in a matter of weeks.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in provinces with COVID-19 cases
For full detail about what’s happening in every province — including those that do not yet have cases — visit your local site.
Ontario, which has reported the most cases in Canada to date, announced on Thursday that schools would be closed for two weeks in addition to the scheduled spring break. Cities across the province made their own plans, calling for the closure of non-essential services like rec centres. At the same time, there were moves to set up temporary, stand-alone screening centres for COVID-19, like this one in Ottawa. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In B.C., officials have asked people who travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Premier John Horgan said on Twitter that the province is doing “all we can to break the chain of transmission” of the novel coronavirus. The province has also directed organizers to cancel events of more than 250 people. Both Horgan and the province’s top doctor noted that doesn’t mean people need to avoid restaurants, or stop shopping or attending things like family events. Read more about what’s happening in B.C. here.
In Alberta, the premier announced a change to the labour code that would allow people who need to self-isolate or care for someone else who is isolated to do that for two weeks without losing their jobs. The government, which had planned cuts to the province’s health service, also announced Friday that cuts to front-line workers wouldn’t be going forward during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta here.
Quebec’s premier announced Friday that schools — from daycares right up through to college and university — would be closing for two weeks. “I understand that today’s announcement will have a significant effect on a lot of parents,” Premier François Legault said Friday. “But this is a measure we have to take.” Montreal moved to close nonessential services like libraries and sports centres, while hospitals in the city moved to restrict visitors — and in some cases, ban them entirely. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec here.
Manitoba, which has four confirmed and presumptive cases, announced this week that its students would also be out of school for an extra two weeks. “We need to stay ahead of the virus, instead of running behind it,” Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said Friday. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba here.
Health officials in Saskatchewan, which has two presumptive cases, have ordered events of 250 people or more to be cancelled as of Monday. “This does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces,” a statement from the government said. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan here.
New Brunswick, which has reported one confirmed case, also moved to close schools for two weeks, with an exception for daycares. “I want to be proactive,” Premier Blaine Higgs said. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick.
As of late Friday night, Canada was reporting nearly 200 cases. To date, the death of a resident of a B.C. long-term care facility is the only known death linked to COVID-19 in Canada.
Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 5 a.m. ET
The U.S. House approved legislation early Saturday to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump on Friday declared the outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight it, then threw his support behind the congressional aid package.
From the Rose Garden, Trump said, “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” unleashing as much as $50 billion US for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.
Trump also announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-through locations, as Washington tries to subdue the new virus whose spread is roiling markets, shuttering institutions and disrupting the lives of everyday Americans.
But he denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available as his administration has come under criticism for being too slow to respond. Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the slow rollout of testing.
A tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University was reporting nearly 2,174 cases in the U.S. as of early Saturday.
WATCH: How scientists at Johns Hopkins University are tracking COVID-19
As the House prepared to vote late Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the hard-fought package that will provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.
“We did what we said we were going to do: Put families first,” said Pelosi, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, including many freshmen. The House passed the bill after midnight on a bipartisan vote, 363-40. It now goes to the Senate.
Trump’s tweet of approval instilled fresh energy in the package, all but ensuring that wary Republicans would join with a robust vote. “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!” Trump wrote, “Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”
The crush of late-day activity capped a tumultuous week in Washington as the fast-moving virus left ordinary Americans suddenly navigating self-quarantines, school closures and a changed way of life.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 5 a.m. ET
Already cooped up most of the day in their homes under Italy’s nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus, millions of Italians woke up on Saturday to find themselves deprived of one of the few simple pleasures left: a walk in the park.
Mayors of many cities, including Rome and Milan, had decided by late Friday to close public playgrounds and parks. Local media say Italy has reported 1,266 deaths from the virus, which has caused major strain on the country — particularly in the north. To date, local media say the country has seen more than 17,660 cases, a tally that includes people who have recovered, the dead and people still living with the virus.
WATCH: How social distancing can limit the spread of COVID-19
According to BBC News, the U.K. is considering a ban on mass gatherings as case numbers there near 800. In France, iconic tourist destinations like The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Versailles were closed after the government banned events of more than 100 people.
Spain’s Cabinet will meet Saturday to declare a two-week state of emergency and announce more measures to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has spiked sharply in recent days to over 4,000 infections in the country. The measure would allow the government to limit free movement, confiscate goods, and take over control of industries and private facilities, including private hospitals.
Here’s what’s happening in China, South Korea and Japan
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 5 a.m. ET
While infections continue to climb around the world, in mainland China the number of new cases is falling. The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, data released by the National Health Commission showed on Saturday.
Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases on Friday, up from eight cases a day earlier, but only four of those — all in the virus epicentre of Hubei province — were locally transmitted. Hubei has now seen new infections fall for nine straight days. All four of the new cases on Friday, down from five a day earlier, were in provincial capital Wuhan.
The flu-like virus has infected 80,824 people in mainland China, the commission said.
In South Korea, the prime minister the country’s war against the coronavirus is broadening despite a notable decline in new cases. He is urging vigilance after the emergence of infection clusters in areas including Seoul and warning of the possibility that the virus re-enters the country from abroad amid widening outbreaks in the West.
Chung Sye-kyun’s comments during a government meeting on Saturday came as infections continued to slow in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which has reported daily increases of 60 to 70 cases over the past three days after averaging around 500 new cases per day a week ago.
South Korea reported 117 new cases and five more fatalities, bringing its total numbers to 8,086 cases and 72 deaths. Officials said 204 people were released from hospitals, making Saturday the second consecutive day that recoveries outnumbered new infections.
Here’s a look at some other COVID-19 news from around the world, including hard-hit nations like Iran and Japan
From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:30 a.m. ET
Saudi Arabia said Saturday that it would halt all international flights to the kingdom for two weeks in the latest effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. Gulf nations have been scrambling to contain the pandemic, which has spread to more than 100 countries and infected more than 130,000 people. Of special concern is nearby Iran, where one of the worst outbreaks has infected more than 11,000 and killed more than 500.
Japan’s Defence Ministry says one of its officials tested positive for the virus Friday after returning from Paris where he attended an international defence seminar. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is calling for continued vigilance, but says Japan doesn’t need to call a state of emergency at this time, saying there is “no explosive spread of infections” in the country. Japan is reporting more than 700 domestic cases, and nearly 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced what she says will be some of the toughest border restrictions in the world in an attempt to keep out the new coronavirus. From Monday, all incoming passengers, including New Zealand citizens, will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days. The only countries exempt from the restrictions are a handful of Pacific islands that haven’t yet had any cases of COVID-19.
Indonesia reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infection to 96 in the Southeast Asian country, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said on Saturday. The total number of deaths from coronavirus rose to five, Yurianto said.
Turkey says flights from nine European countries will halt Saturday as the country reports its fifth case of coronavirus.
Colombia’s president has ordered his nation’s border with Venezuela closed as a coronavirus containment measure.
'No easy path': PM Trudeau on national COVID-19 death projections – CTV News
Under the current public health measures up to 44,000 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the months ahead. However, federal modelling shows the death rate could skyrocket if efforts stopped.
Speaking to these projections during his daily address on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said keeping the number of deaths as low as possible depends on what each person does now, but it will “take months of continued, determined effort.”
Federal projections released by Health Canada detailed the overall best- and worst-case scenarios for the pandemic’s spread and impact in Canada, varying on the degree of actions taken by governments and Canadians.
Referencing the data, Trudeau said the peak of cases in Canada may come in late spring, with the end of the first wave in the summer.
“We have the chance to determine what our country looks like in the weeks and months to come. Our healthcare systems across the country are coping for the time being, but we’re at a fork in the road, between the best and the worst possible outcomes,” Trudeau said. “The best possible outcome is no easy path for any of us.”
“There will likely be smaller outbreaks for a number of months after that. This will be the new normal, until a vaccine is developed,” he said, adding that some estimates show that some level of public health measures could be needed for the next six to eight months, or for as long as a year and a half.
Trudeau said this, coupled with more than one million jobs being lost in March, is obviously “difficult news.”
“We are unfortunately going to continue to lose people across this country in the coming weeks… We can continue to do what is necessary for the coming weeks and months to get through this first wave in the right way so we can get back to being there for each other in the coming year,” he said.
The prime minister also said that the work underway to develop more sophisticated testing and contact tracing is going to improve the global grasp on the virus that’s kneecapped global economies and changed how societies act.
WIDE RANGE OF SCENARIOS
The scenarios indicate that, depending on the containment efforts, between 4,000 and 300,000 people in Canada could die from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. Though, the current reality of the virus has Canada closer to the lower end of that spectrum and the two more developed scenarios from Health Canada under the current strong measures show that the range is likely somewhere between 11,000 and 22,000 Canadian deaths.
The short-term federal projection on the spread of COVID-19 shows that between 500 and 700 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the next week, with the number of cases rising to between 22,580 and 31,850 cases.
If 2.5 per cent of the population contracts the virus, that would mean:
- 934,000 Canadians get sick;
- 73,000 could be hospitalized;
- 23,000 people could end up in the intensive care unit; and
- 11,000 people could die.
If the percentage of the population that gets sick hits 5 per cent, that would mean:
- 1,879,000 contract COVID-19;
- 146,000 could be hospitalized;
- 46,000 people could end up in the ICU; and
- 22,000 people could die.
If that grows further to 10 per cent of the population, approximately 44,000 people in Canada could die.
With no control efforts in place, up to 80 per cent of Canadians could contract the virus. That scenario could result in a summertime peak and more than 300,000 deaths, which is approximately equivalent to the total number of deaths from all causes in Canada each year.
Health Canada says the current pandemic parameters Canadians are living under are considered strong controls, such as physical distancing, and quarantining travellers, whereas if fewer people stay home or do not act like they could be carrying the virus there will be a weaker hold on the disease.
The data and modelling released Thursday is informing the current national public health measures in place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the numbers “stark,” but cautioned that these possible scenarios are imperfect given the different regional epidemics, and the outcomes will ultimately be determined by Canadians’ actions.
Tam said that means everything that can be done, must be done, to keep Canada’s trajectory within the range of best-case scenarios, “despite all the hardships and cost.”
Tam said that community transmission in Canada started later than in other countries, our per capita testing rate is higher than most countries, and the increase in total number of cases has been slower here than in other nations.
“In the last weeks a lot has been done, and we will need to monitory every single day the evolution of the outbreak and the trajectory so we can recalibrate as needed,” she said.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
PEAK ‘WON’T BE THE END’
Under all scenarios the peak appears to be coming sometime between late spring and early fall.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said it appears that the first wave of the virus will last until the summer, and “that won’t be the end.”
He said it’ll be up to each region of the country to monitor their curves and change their local public health approach accordingly.
As Trudeau echoed, Health Canada cautioned that in the absence of a treatment or vaccine, the fight against the disease is likely going to require waves of epidemic controls, spanning months.
For example, Canadians could still be instructed to distance themselves from others and practise hand hygiene; international and domestic travel restrictions could remain in place; and incoming travellers could face mandatory 14-day isolations.
Calling the potential second and third resurgences of the novel coronavirus that could come before a cure is found “wavelets,” Trudeau said Canadians will be “much better equipped” to handle them.
“We will have developed both tools and habits that will allow us to be much more resilient and resistant to further outbreaks and spreads,” Trudeau said.
Also playing a factor in the scenarios is the increase in health care capacity, from stocking up on lifesaving supplies like ventilators, to having enough workers able to respond to the surge of patients.
Prior to physical distancing and other steps being taken, Health Canada estimates that each infected person in Canada passed the respiratory disease on to more than two people on average, but that has since been decreased, but we have not yet reached the point of stopping all spread.
Several provinces have already released their best- and worst-case projections for the number of deaths and cases, as well as how long they estimate it will take to contain the virus that’s already infected more than 20,000 Canadians and killed more than 500 people nationwide.
‘CAUGHT OFF GUARD’
Facing questions about how Canada ended up a month into a global pandemic with months ahead of us and thousands of deaths expected, Trudeau said countries around the world were “caught off guard” by COVID-19.
“The challenges that we’ve faced in terms of getting Canadians protected are echoed in challenges faced around the world, and some countries are handling it better than others… And of course, there’ll be lots of lessons learned from this,” the prime minster said.
“I think we all know that this was a situation that we’re adjusting as best we can to. We took the advice of experts, we move forward in significant ways. As we look back at the end of this I’m sure people will say: ‘Oh you could have done this a few days before, or maybe you did this one too quickly and you could have taken a few more days to reflect on it.’ Every step of the way we make the best decisions we can, given the information we have. And if it’s not exactly right, we fix it and we try and get it better as we move forward.”
Evoking war-time language, and noting that Thursday marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War battle of Vimy Ridge, Trudeau said Thursday that things will get better, but first Canadians will have to sacrifice and do what can be done to prevent as many deaths as possible.
Almost 3,600 Canadians died during this battle, and more than 7,000 were injured.
“As historians have noted reflecting on Vimy, it was a moment ordinary people did extraordinary things… And their legacy lives on in our women and men in uniform who are there for us in times of need, in our nurses and doctors who put themselves in harm’s way for us all to stay healthy, in everyone who steps up, and asks what they can do for their fellow Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“That’s what makes Canada strong. And that will always be our path forward, no matter what tomorrow may bring.”
Even with strict containment measures, officials project up to 22,000 COVID-19 deaths in Canada – CBC.ca
Federal health officials are projecting there could be nearly 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and between 500 and 700 deaths in Canada by April 16, and even with relatively strong control measures in place, there could be between 11,000 and 22,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic.
The figures came Thursday morning as officials released modelling on how the COVID-19 crisis could unfold in the country, and suggested that containment measures such as physical distancing and quarantines could be in place for months to come.
The longer-term projections look at scenarios for when strong controls are followed (one-10 per cent of the population infected, called the “green zone”), weaker controls (25-50 per cent infected, called the “blue zone”) and no controls (70-80 per cent infected, called the “red zone”).
With strong controls, if about 2.5 to five per cent of the population became infected, that would mean between 934,000 and 1.9 million cases. That would also mean up to 22,000 deaths and between 23,000 and 46,000 ICU admissions.
If no containment measures had been taken, which was not the case in Canada, there would be a worst-case scenario of about 300,000 deaths.
Officials said the caseload in Canada is doubling every three to five days, which is considered a relatively positive trajectory compared to other countries. Tam said that is in large part because of lessons learned from other countries about how strong control measures can limit the spread of the virus.
Tam said she is hopeful Canada can stay in the green zone and keep infections and deaths relatively low.
‘Prevent every death that we can’
She warned that measures that can create “hardships” are critical to keep ICU admissions and deaths as low as possible.
“We can’t prevent every death, but we must prevent every death that we can,” she said.
Tam said it’s early to know how close Canada is nationally to seeing a “peak” in transmission. But she cautioned that even as there’s a decline in transmissions, Canadians must stay the course with preventative measures as there is a risk of the virus re-igniting.
“What we do together now will buy us more time to further understand the virus and to develop treatments and vaccines,” she said.
“We are the authors of our fate. Together we can plank the epidemic curve.”
Tam said if 2.5 per cent of the population were infected, there would begin to be strains on the health-care system.
The analysis of how many people could become infected, get sick or die from the virus comes just before the long holiday weekend.
Tam said models are “imperfect” but they can help understand the state of the pandemic and where it might go, along with the effect of public health measures on the transmission of the virus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly told Canadians that how fast and far the virus spreads will depend largely on how stringently Canadians follow public health advice, including physical distancing, handwashing and staying home whenever possible.
Several provinces have already released projections. Ontario estimates the number of deaths in the province could reach between 3,000 and 15,000 people over the course of the pandemic, which could last up to two years.
Tam has cautioned that models that try to predict how many people could become infected and die from the coronavirus are not “crystal balls,” and that it’s important to focus on data on what is happening in real time.
How projections actually play out depends largely on actions taken by individuals and governments, she said.
Canadians overwhelmingly support stronger measures to fight COVID-19, Ipsos poll suggests – Global News
A new Ipsos poll suggests a strong majority of Canadians would support a wide range of government measures to further limit the spread of COVID-19, from stricter physical distancing laws to limiting personal movement.
The poll, released Thursday on behalf of Global News, also found 84 per cent of Canadians surveyed would support whatever deficit that Ottawa would say is necessary to get Canada through the coronavirus pandemic.
While the poll found strong support for extending or strengthening measures already in place, like enforcing physical distancing, it also suggests a majority of the country would accept even harsher measures — even down to invading personal privacy.
The highest majorities were found when Canadians were asked about more empathetic initiatives. Ninety per cent of those surveyed said they would either strongly or somewhat support the military building field hospitals for COVID-19 patients, while 87 per cent were supportive of the government using empty hotels to house the homeless.
The same majority of Canadians surveyed — 85 per cent — supported both stricter physical distancing measures enforced by legislation, and large fines for anyone caught breaking those orders. Those moves would strengthen existing laws and penalties meant to keep people apart.
Yet the poll also suggests that 76 per cent of Canadians would approve of government-imposed restrictions on who can leave their home and when, a measure that has gained traction in other parts of the world.
Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?
A relatively slim majority of those surveyed, 65 per cent, said they would even support the federal government using cellphone data to track Canadians who are supposed to be self-isolating. If enacted, the move would echo measures taken by governments from South Korea to Poland.
Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker said the fact that majorities were found across the board suggests that Canadians are prepared for the government to do “whatever it wants” to fight the pandemic.
“We’ve had some commentary from experts saying the government has overstepped some of its boundaries of what they consider appropriate for this circumstance,” he said. “But they have pretty strong public support for doing whatever is necessary in order to deal with this situation.
“Whatever the limit is, we certainly didn’t find it in this survey.”
While most of the above measures found strong support across gender, age groups, provinces and household incomes, both phone tracking and running deficits saw their support dip among some groups. Respondents in more conservative provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan were less supportive of allowing a deficit, for example, while younger people were more wary of the government invading their privacy.
Many provinces and municipalities have threatened to both fine people and put them behind bars if they continue to gather in large groups or not self-isolate. The Canadian government has enacted legislation that requires all returning travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, with fines up to $750,000 and jail sentences up to six months for those who don’t comply.
Another recent Ipsos poll suggested a full quarter of Canadians admit they’re not following social distancing guidelines as much as they should, even though 95 per cent of those surveyed believe social distancing will slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Coronavirus outbreak: WHO searches for balance between privacy and protecting communities
Bricker said the two polls together highlight a mentality among some Canadians that other people are the problem, not themselves.
“If you look at the initiatives that we’re asking people to approve of, one is limiting my own personal movement, but almost everything else is really things that they feel should be done to other people,” he said.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the federal government is prepared to use “every measure in our toolbox” to battle the pandemic, including enforcing self-isolation and even physical distancing.
But Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has expressed resistance to limiting personal freedoms like privacy and mobility, arguing a “proper balance” is needed.
With officials saying Canada must brace for physical distancing measures to remain in place until at least the beginning of summer, Bricker says the poll data suggests people are transitioning from fear of the virus to frustration over when life will return to normal.
“People don’t really have a significant amount of fear about the potential damage to their own health; really, the effect they’re feeling much more directly is the effect that [the pandemic] is having on their ability to earn an income,” he said.
“What they really want to have happen is for government to take whatever action is necessary both to guarantee their income … and get people behaving in the right way so we can move on and put this issue behind us.”
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between April 3 and April 7, with a sample of 1,006 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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