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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Tuesday – CBC.ca

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The latest: 

A small number of MPs will be back in Ottawa today, a day after provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec issued orders calling for the closure of non-essential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The MPs are returning to vote on measures to spend billions on aid for families and businesses struggling to cope as the coronavirus outbreak hammers the economy. 

Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in people in every province and territory except Nunavut. Ontario and Quebec, along with B.C., have reported the most cases to date.

The message from cities and provinces — to stay home, keep a safe distance from others and avoid groups — is also coming straight from the prime minister. 

On Monday, Justin Trudeau urged people to “go home and stay home.” 

“This is what we all need to be doing, and we’re going to make sure this happens, whether by educating people more on the risks, or by enforcing the rules, if that’s needed,” Trudeau said at his daily briefing. “Nothing that could help is off the table.”   

The federal government has so far declined to invoke the Emergencies Act, which gives it temporary authority to do things like restrict travel and impose fines if people don’t comply with rules issued under the act. But at least one premier, New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs, has said a federal emergency declaration would allow for a more unified national response.

Not long after Trudeau spoke on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that all non-essential stores and businesses in Canada’s most populous province would be ordered to close for 14 days.

“This decision was not made lightly, and the gravity of this order does not escape me,” Ford said.  

Quebec made a similar move, opting to halt all but essential services. The province is effectively “on hold” until April 13, Premier François Legault said as he announced the latest measures.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 382,000 people and killed over 16,500 worldwide. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, results in mild or moderate symptoms in most people — but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 101,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

The pandemic has led to border restrictions and business closures — and now, it has led to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday the International Olympic Committee president has agreed to delay the Summer Games amid growing concern about the coronavirus outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The announcement came a day after Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees announced that they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this summer if the Games went ahead as planned.

WHO chief says pandemic is ‘accelerating’

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that the pandemic is “accelerating.” 

“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases. You can see how the virus is accelerating,” he said.

But he noted that people and governments aren’t “helpless bystanders” to the outbreak.

“We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

He said defensive measures like social distancing are important, but urged an “attack” as well. Tedros urged governments to test every suspected case, isolate and care for every confirmed case and find and quarantine close contacts of COVID-19 patients.

WATCH | Social distancing Q&A: Are you doing it right?

Have a question about social distancing? Join CBC’s Heather Hiscox and infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch as they answer your questions about what’s safe, like can you meet a friend for a walk and how close is too close in your own home? 0:00

The WHO chief also expressed concern about rising case numbers among health-care workers.

“Even if we do everything else right, if we don’t prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their life is sick,” he said.

On Tuesday, after more than a week in which China said the vast majority of new virus cases were imported from abroad, authorities said the restrictions in Hubei would end. People cleared by health authorities would be able to leave the province after midnight. The city of Wuhan itself will remain locked down until April 8.

Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada’s provinces and territories, the U.S. and around the world.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

In British Columbia, the premier announced a $5 billion coronavirus relief plan. The plan, which Finance Minister Carole James described as a “first step, but a critical step” includes funding for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the coronavirus fallout, as well as for businesses. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Alberta’s top public health official says her team is closely tracking community transmission, saying “that is our biggest concern.” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there are existing measures to deal with returning travellers, a message Premier Jason Kenney reiterated Monday when he urged people returning home from the U.S. to take self-isolation seriously, saying it isn’t a “vague general hint or suggestion.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says he’s pleased to see social distancing happening, which could help flatten the curve. Dr. Saqib Shahab also noted that the province is “at a critical point now because most of the cases are still either travel or related to [past] large events.” Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

A worker is pictured at Vancouver’s first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site for health-care workers on Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

In Manitoba, officials say people arriving in the province should self-isolate for 14 days — even if their travel was inside Canada. There are some exceptions, including truckers and people who live on one side of a provincial border and work on the other. But chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Monday: “I want to make it clear that this is not just a suggestion.” Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ordering all non-essential businesses to close, but says people will still be able to buy food, medicine and other essentials. “Every Ontarian must do their part. If you can, please stay home, only leave if necessary,” the premier said. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Quebec moved to close non-essential businesses amid growing concern about community transmission of COVID-19, Premier François Legault said Monday, noting that people would still be able to get essential supplies. “It’s time also for the government to act in a decisive manner. We must put Quebec on pause until Easter.” Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

New Brunswick’s premier wants to see a national approach to stopping COVID-19. Premier Blaine Higgs said he’s in favour of the prime minister invoking the Emergencies Act, saying it would unify the approach to handling the growing outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Children in Nova Scotia likely won’t be back in class in early April, the province’s top public health official says. “I just need to signal to people that this is in all likelihood not just a two-week period. It’s longer than that,” Dr. Robert Strang said Monday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island has set up a “strict” system of fines for people who aren’t following rules aimed at stamping out COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s government is ordering more businesses closed as the province sees more cases of COVID-19. “We are actively considering further actions to reduce our risk,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Nunavut is closing its border to all but returning residents and critical workers in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Northwest Territories government is closing a major highway and Yukon is dealing with its first reported cases of COVID-19 after a couple returned from the U.S. Read more about what’s happening in the North.

As of Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. ET, Canada had nearly 2,100 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Here’s a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province.

  • British Columbia: 472  confirmed cases, including 100 resolved and 13 deaths.

  • Ontario: 504 confirmed cases, including eight resolved and six deaths.

  • Alberta: 301 confirmed cases, including three resolved and one death.

  • Quebec: 628 confirmed cases, including one resolved and four deaths.

  • Saskatchewan: 66 confirmed and presumptive cases.

  • Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases.

  • New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.

  • Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed and presumptive cases.

  • Prince Edward Island: Three cases the province lists as positive.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 24 confirmed and presumptive cases.

  • Northwest Territories: One confirmed case.

  • Yukon: Two confirmed cases.

  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed cases.

Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Not all provinces are listing figures on those who have recovered. The recent COVID-19 related death of a Canadian in Japan is not currently included in the province-by-province tally of cases.

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

WATCH | Trump wants to ease COVID-19 restrictions, get Americans back to work:

U.S. President Donald Trump is talking about ways to ease restrictions in place to reduce further spread of COVID-19 and getting people back to work. 1:59

From The Associated Press, updated at 5:30 a.m. ET

Top congressional and White House officials negotiating the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package say they expect to reach a deal sometime Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer say they spoke by phone with President Donald Trump as they met late into the night at the Capitol.

While the sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some disagreements remain. Washington has been straining to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, and tempers in Congress have flared at times. 

Meantime, Trump is musing openly about letting a 15-day shutdown expire next Monday.

The scramble to marshal public health and political resources intensified in New York, where a statewide lockdown took effect Monday amid worries the city of 8.4 million is becoming one of the world’s biggest hot spots. More than 12,000 people have tested positive in the city and almost 100 have died.

The mayor warned that the city’s hospitals are just 10 days away from shortages in basic supplies, while the state’s governor announced plans to convert a New York City convention centre into a hospital.

“This is going to get much worse before it gets better,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

WATCH | Russia’s coronavirus count under scrutiny:

Russia has so far kept its amount of coronavirus cases low during the pandemic, but some say many cases of COVID-19 are being labelled something else. 2:04

From The Associated Press, updated at 6 a.m. ET

Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all non-essential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicines or to exercise.

But photos showed crowded trains on some London subway lines Tuesday, amid confusion about who is still allowed to go to work. London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.” The government says police will have powers to break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.

In Italy, declines in both new cases and deaths for a second consecutive day provided a faint glimmer of hope. Officials said Monday that the virus had claimed just over 600 more lives, down from 793 two days earlier. The outbreak has killed more than 6,000 Italians, the highest death toll of any country, and pushed the health system to the breaking point there and in Spain.

In Spain, Madrid’s ice-skating rink is now being used as a makeshift morgue given the rapid increase in deaths in the Spanish capital owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Security forces guarded the outside of the Palacio de Hielo complex on Madrid’s northeastern outskirts Tuesday as funeral service vans arrived and entered the building’s underground car park. Madrid is one of the hardest hit of Spain’s 17 regions with some 1,300 deaths, approximately half the national total. Spain announced 6,584 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record number of 514 to 2,696. 

Here’s a look at what’s happening elsewhere, including hard-hit areas like Iran and South Korea

WATCH | Can Canada learn from what Taiwan is doing to beat back COVID-19?

Both Taiwan and Canada reported their first presumptive cases of COVID-19 within days of each other, but their experience of life with the pandemic has been quite different. Children in Taiwan are still in school, restaurants are open and there’s no shortage of protective supplies. Watch what Canada can learn from Taiwan’s approach to fight the spread of the coronavirus. 5:42

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7 a.m. ET

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 122 in the past 24 hours to 1,934, Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday. The total number of people diagnosed with COVID-19
increased by 1,762 in the past 24 hours, to 24,811, he added on state TV.  There are over 31,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the Mideast, the vast majority in the hard-hit nation of Iran.

South Korea says 19 of 1,444 passengers who arrived from Europe on Sunday were found to have the coronavirus, the first cases detected after authorities began testing all people coming from the continent. South Korean Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho also said Tuesday that 101 of some 1,200 passengers who arrived from Europe on Monday have exhibited fever or respiratory symptoms. South Korea says it will fully fund the treatment for virus carriers regardless of their nationality. Even if they test negative, South Korean nationals arriving from Europe or foreigners who enter the country from Europe on long-term stay visas are required to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.

A Jordanian policeman stands guard as people stand in line to buy bread from a bus in front of their homes after Jordan announced it would extend a curfew indefinitely, amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19. (Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

South Africa’s coronavirus cases leapt again to 554 on Tuesday, the most of any country in Africa, as its 57 million people rushed to prepare for a lockdown that begins Thursday. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night announced the 21-day lockdown. Rwanda and Tunisia earlier announced lockdowns. Workers in South Africa will be required to stay home except for those in essential services including health care and security, as well as the production and distribution of food, utilities and medical products. Across Africa, 43 of its 54 countries now have cases, with the total at 1,788. Thirteen countries have reported 58 deaths. South Africa has not recorded one.

Egypt will impose a two-week, nightly curfew in the Arab world’s most-populous country in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, its prime minister announced Tuesday as the International Monetary Fund warned a lack of supplies could affect the Mideast’s poorest nations. Egypt has 366 confirmed cases and 21 fatalities, including two senior military officers. The IMF, which traditionally has urged governments to implement greater austerity measures, now urges Mideast governments to offer temporary tax relief and cash transfers. It also warned a lack of medical supplies could hurt Iraq, Sudan and Yemen if it leads to a surge in prices.

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Don't head to your cottage to wait out COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians warned – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The advice has been clear. To help flatten the curve and keep Canadian hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19, everyone should stay home.

For some Canadians, though, it raises a question: Which home?

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the country, infecting thousands, some have decided that quiet, rural communities might make for a better place to hang their hats than bustling, population-dense cities.

These decisions to relocate to seasonal homes come with the risk of creating tension in the small communities set up to handle large populations in the summer and small ones at this time of year, as well as real health risks. The Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association (FOCA) said earlier this month that it had been contacted by a number of cottagers concerned that travelling could further the spread of the virus.

Additionally, should an out-of-town visitor contract the virus, they may find that they can’t access treatment as easily as they would have been able to had they stayed in a larger city.

In some rural towns, expected patient influxes and staff absences are affecting local health-care sectors in severe ways. Emergency rooms in the Ontario communities of Clinton and Chesley are no longer open overnight because of demands during the daytime.

Bracebridge, Ont. Mayor Graydon Smith told CTV News Barrie on March 21 that his town was “seeing an influx of a lot of people,” potentially putting a strain on its health-care system.

“We’ve got a limited number of ICU beds, and if we’re suddenly dealing with double the population … we could see a real shortage of needed health-care facilities,” he said.

Canada’s chief public health officer weighed in on the subject Sunday, making it clear in no uncertain terms that this is not the time to head for a cottage, cabin or camp.

“Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam said at a press conference in Ottawa.

There are also supply-chain issues to consider. Retailers across the country have found it difficult to keep food, cleaning supplies and other highly-demanded products on their shelves. For stores in remote areas that are used to serving small populations at this time of year, a sudden influx of cottagers can make it even more difficult to meet the needs of their year-round customers.

Even FOCA, which largely represents owners of seasonal properties, is urging cottagers to consider the strain they could put on these communities.

“FOCA reminds members that our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands,” the organization said in its bulletin.

“This is not the time for our usual credo to ‘buy local’ in cottage country.”

Tourism is a major big business in many cottage communities, where populations often more than double during the summer months – bringing in the economic stimulant needed to keep the permanent residents afloat through the winter. That’s certainly true of Saugeen Shores, Ont., where Luke Charbonneau has started repeating an anti-tourism mantra that he never expected he’d have to give.

“Don’t travel out of Saugeen Shores; don’t travel out of Saugeen Shores,” he told CTV News London on March 26.

On top of all that, there is no evidence to suggest rural areas are inherently better protected from the virus. Based on the numbers available Sunday morning, sparsely populated Yukon was reporting roughly one confirmed case for every 9,000 residents, while Ontario – Canada’s most population-dense province – had approximately one case for every 12,000 residents. There have been three deaths in Ontario’s Simcoe-Muskoka health region and three more in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge health region, both of which include large swaths of the province’s cottage country.

Factor in the likelihood that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in Canada have yet to be detected, and it appears there is no reason to believe in the idea of rural sanctuaries.

“Even if you have not heard of cases in your community, that does not mean that there are no cases or no exposures waiting to happen,” Tam said.

As of Sunday, there have been more than 6,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada out of more than 205,000 tests conducted. More than six per cent of known cases have ended up in hospital. Sixty-three people have died of the virus in Canada.

With files from CTV News London’s Scott Miller and CTV News Barrie’s Craig Momney

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Trudeau pledges more help for vulnerable Canadians struggling with coronavirus crisis – CBC.ca

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said more help is on the way for Canadian youth and seniors struggling with staying at home and accessing critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his daily address on Sunday, the prime minister first delivered a message to youth across the country, acknowledging for many Canadians “home isn’t a safe place to be” and that for “many more, they have no place to go at all.”

The federal government has pledged $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to children and youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support and community resources.

The government will also boost aid for Canadian seniors, contributing $9 million through United Way Canada to help the country’s older population get groceries, medication and other critical items.

The aid will also go toward assessing seniors’ individual needs and connecting them to the necessary community resources. 

The new relief measures come on top of previous commitments to assist Canadians experiencing homelessness, as well as those relying on women’s shelters, sexual assault centres and similar facilities in Indigenous communities.  

WATCH | Trudeau speaks directly to Canadian youth:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to Canadian children and youth across the country Sunday, announcing more mental health supports for those struggling with isolation.  1:02

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, kids relocate to Quebec cottage

On the advice of doctors, Trudeau continues to work from home despite the conclusion of his 14-day period of self-isolation.

His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau — who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month following a trip to the United Kingdom — took to social media late Saturday to say she had received a clean bill of health. 

The prime minister said Sunday that he was “very happy” to receive the news. 

“It’s been a few days since she’s been symptom-free, and obviously I want to thank everyone who’s sent messages of support.”

WATCH | Trudeau updates Canadians on his family:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an update on his family Sunday after Sophie Grégoire Trudeau said she had received a clean bill of health.    0:45

Trudeau said he will remain at the family’s home in Ottawa while his wife and three children spend some time at the family’s cottage retreat in Quebec.

“Up to a few days before she was clear, I was still sharing a roof — we were being careful — but sharing a roof with someone who’d tested positive for COVID-19. So I have to continue in isolation in order to be sure that we’re following all protocols and the recommendations by Health Canada.”

As for other Canadians trying to follow recommended guidelines, the prime minister underscored the public health agency’s criteria about who gets a green light to go for walks in public.

“It’s very simple,” Trudeau said. “You can go for a walk unless you have … tested positive for COVID-19, unless you have symptoms of COVID-19 or unless you have returned from outside the country within 14 days.”

Restrictions tightened on domestic travel

On Saturday, Trudeau announced that anyone hoping to board a plane or train between cities and provinces who exhibits symptoms of coronavirus will be barred from travel as of noon ET Monday.

Personnel from air and rail companies will conduct health checks on passengers prior to boarding and can now prevent anyone showing signs of the illness from continuing on their journey. 

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that because interprovincial bus travel does not fall under federal jurisdiction, he would be working with provinces to recommend similar protocols for bus operators. 

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WHO expert's advice for Canada: don't just flatten the curve, curtail it – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The Canadian doctor at the forefront of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) fight against the novel coronavirus says Canada is taking the appropriate steps to flatten the curve, noting that the biggest challenge lies in the speed of finding new cases and isolating them.

“The danger that Canada faces, like any other country, are the cases you have in the country right now and how those are managed,” WHO official Dr. Bruce Aylward told CTV News Channel via Skype from Geneva Sunday.

“It’s going to need to be more then flattening the curve—it’s flatten and curtail, or cut that curve as much as possible.”

The Canadian doctor has become the WHO’s leading expert on COVID-19. During the height of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus, Aylward led an international team on a fact-finding mission in the region.

As the outbreak spread across the world, Aylward studied the unprecedented response from global governments as they tried to “flatten the curve.”

“Canada has been doing all the right things,” Aylward said.

“It’s been working very hard to attack this on two fronts. The first is making sure the treatments and capacities are in place to take care of sick Canadians. But, as importantly, trying to find those cases rapidly and trying to isolate, because that’s what slows down the virus.”

Aylward says the best course of action in fighting this disease, so far, has proven to be a good defence and offence.

In a previous interview with CTV’s W5, he noted that China was able to stop the disease from spreading further by enacting “draconian” steps: self-isolation, mass quarantine and physical distancing measures.

He says both federal and provincial officials are taking the right steps to ensure the safety of Canadians, encouraging physical distancing measures and even shutting down provincial borders.

Our biggest challenge, he says, will be diagnosing and isolating mild cases of the disease to stop its rapid transmission.

“The only areas that have successfully managed to keep the numbers down have really been east Asia… China, Korea, Singapore. In all of these places what they did was make sure that they effectively isolated everybody with the disease, whether it was mild or serious disease, because they’re both going to spread the virus,” he said.

“You’ve got to do is take the heat out of this thing and that’s how they did it.”

Aylward says because the virus spreads so rapidly, the steps countries take to flatten the curve need to be equally as aggressive — something he admits is hard for the public to understand.

“Your real goal at this point is preventing your health services from being overwhelmed so you can take care of the seriously sick and save as many lives as possible,” he noted.

As of Sunday morning, more than 5,600 people in Canada have been infected with the virus and 61 have died.​

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