TORONTO — Amid crippling job losses across the country due to COVID-19, the federal government on Thursday warned the number of Canadians killed by the novel coronavirus would likely double over the next week and could reach thousands over the course of the pandemic.
If stringent measures remained in place, the country’s top public health officer predicted the virus could cost at least 4,400 lives over its course. Had such controls not been implemented, models indicate as many as 80 per cent of the population could have been infected, with as many as 350,000 deaths.
“These stark numbers tell us we must do everything we can now to remain in that best-case scenario,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a sombre presentation. “We must minimize the population infected … in order to keep deaths, ICU admissions and hospitalizations as low as possible.”
In response to the projections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it would take months of determined effort to temper the worst outcomes. Canada, he said, was at a crossroad, and how scrupulously people observed isolation measures would determine what happens.
“We are going to continue to lose people across this country in the coming weeks,” said Trudeau, who noted normal was still a long way away. “We will not be coming back to our former normal situation; we can’t do that until we have developed a vaccine and that could take 12 to 18 months.”
Tam said the spread of the virus appeared to be moderating somewhat and that Canada could bring the epidemic under control by the end of summer if social distancing and other measures were strictly adhered to. With spotty controls, she said, we could still be battling the tail end of the pandemic a year from now.
The number of Canadians infected with the flu-like virus passed the 20,000 level on Thursday, with 504 deaths. Quebec, with almost 11,000 cases, reported 41 new deaths, 216 in all. Ontario said the virus has killed 200 people so far — an increase of 26. The new total of infections in the province is 5,759 others. One death was a worker at a hospital in Brampton, Ont.
Globally, the flu-like pandemic has infected more than 1.5 million people, about 93,000 fatally, according to latest international data. The U.S. appeared to become the country with the highest number of known COVID deaths in the world — more than 15,000 — with New York State alone having more cases than any country excepting the U.S. itself.
Given the bleak American situation, Tam said keeping the common border closed to all but essential traffic was critical.
“We are different from what is happening in the United States in terms of their epidemiology,” Tam said. “We want to be able to stay within that epidemic control curve that I presented today, so we’ll be doing everything that we can.”
Experts say frequent hand-washing and keeping at least two metres from others is the most effective way to curb the pandemic and ease the burden on the health-care system.
The isolation measures — governments and health authorities have either urged or ordered people to stay home and non-essential businesses to close — have brought commercial life to its knees.
Just how deep the restrictions cut was seen when Statistics Canada reported on Thursday that more than one million people lost their jobs in March. The result was a 40 per cent jump in the monthly national unemployment rate to 7.8 per cent, up from 5.6 per cent at the end of February — a “punch in the gut,” as Ontario Premier Doug Ford put it.
People aged 15 to 24 took the biggest brunt, with unemployment jumping to 16.8 per cent — a 63 per cent increase.
The spike was the worst showing in 40 years of data gathering and the April situation was expected to be even worse, economists warned.
The federal government said more than five million people had applied for the government’s emergency jobless benefit.
One glimmer of light did emerge job-wise: WestJet said it would put 6,400 employees bank on payroll with help from Ottawa’s wage subsidies. Air Canada had similarly said 16,500 of its laid-off employees were taking advantage of the program.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada
The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:20 p.m. ET on April 9, 2020:
There are 20,765 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.
— Quebec: 10,912 confirmed (including 216 deaths, 1,112 resolved)
— Ontario: 5,759 confirmed (including 200 deaths, 2,305 resolved)
— Alberta: 1,451 confirmed (including 32 deaths, 592 resolved)
— British Columbia: 1,370 confirmed (including 50 deaths, 858 resolved)
— Nova Scotia: 373 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 82 resolved)
— Saskatchewan: 278 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 88 resolved)
— Newfoundland and Labrador: 236 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 96 resolved)
— Manitoba: 207 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 69 resolved), 17 presumptive
— New Brunswick: 111 confirmed (including 50 resolved)
— Prince Edward Island: 25 confirmed (including 17 resolved)
— Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed
— Yukon: 8 confirmed (including 4 resolved)
— Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 1 resolved)
— Nunavut: No confirmed cases
— Total: 20,765 (17 presumptive, 20,748 confirmed including 509 deaths, 5,254 resolved)
Testing underway after 8 migrant workers at Elgin County farm test positive for coronavirus – Global News
Officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) and Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) say coronavirus testing is underway at a St. Thomas-area farm after at least eight temporary foreign workers tested positive for the virus this week.
An outbreak was declared on Thursday at Ontario Plants Propagation, a greenhouse operation along John Wise Line, days after the MLHU said it first became aware of a case Monday night involving a worker at the farm, health officials said on Friday.
That initial case led to 16 of the worker’s close contacts being tested on Tuesday, with seven of the tests coming back positive. As those workers live in London, the seven are included in the tally of new cases that was reported on Friday by MLHU.
According to the health unit, another 40 workers living at the same complex as the first case were tested on Wednesday at London’s Carling Heights Assessment Centre.
The remaining workers in the group, meanwhile, were to be tested on Friday at Ontario Plants Propagation. Test results for all were expected over the coming days.
“The operator of this farm has been tremendously co-operative with us, and we believe that this outbreak is now contained,” said Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health with the MLHU, during Friday’s coronavirus media briefing.
“Of course, we will be monitoring that very closely over the next couple of weeks.”
Coronavirus outbreak: How the pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities in the food supply chain
Summers said the workers had arrived primarily from Guatemala and Jamaica, and that as far as the health unit was aware, all had quarantined for 14 days upon arriving in Ontario.
The workers are currently in self-isolation, and none have been admitted to hospital.
Health officials are still working to find the source of the outbreak, but Summers said it was believed they had been in Canada long enough that they either contracted it here, or “one of the other workers may have had mild symptoms that weren’t identified and transmitted it subsequently to their colleagues.”
“We believe that we have readily identified all close contacts and any additional cases,” Summers said. “Of course, we continue to watch for further results. But those tests have been done.”
Health officials stressed there was no risk to the public from the products grown on the farm, and that they didn’t believe there had been any close exposure or close contact outside of the migrant farmworker community.
“The living conditions for these migrant farmworkers were certainly a congregate living setting, but not exceptionally crowded, nor of specific concern for us,” Summers said.
“They were people living together and that would have resulted in the transmission.”
COVID-19 cases have also been reported at other southwestern Ontario farms during the pandemic.
Fifty-one workers, local and foreign, at Greenhill Produce in Kent Bridge, Ont., tested positive for the coronavirus last month.
In Windsor-Essex, at least 16 workers from three farms in the region had tested positive for the virus as of early this month, the region’s health unit said.
In March, four workers tested positive at Highline Mushrooms in Kingsville, Ont.
Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to the Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses.
— With files from Shawn Jeffords of The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Six people can be added to existing double bubbles, government announces – NTV News
The provincial government announced Friday that residents can expand their bubbles effective immediately.
Up to six more people can be added to an existing double bubble. The new members do not have to be from the same household, but cannot change once added. The government still advises people to keep their bubbles as small as possible.
More guidance can be found online here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/individuals-and-households/expansion-of-household-bubble/
Dr. Proton Rahman is scheduled to release new projections Friday on how the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding.
Dr. Fitzgerald announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Ontario ramps up COVID-19 testing – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com
A new testing strategy for COVID-19 will see “targeted campaigns” to check workers in Ontario communities with hot spots and key sectors where the virus spreads easily, including auto manufacturing, food suppliers and major retailers.
Officials unveiled the new blueprint Friday, with elements echoing what Premier Doug Ford has been saying for more than a week — and what epidemiologists have been pushing for much longer — to get a better picture of the illness as the economy reopens.
“It’s really to be proactive and understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, who was instrumental in cobbling together a network of provincial, hospital and private labs to expand testing capacity.
For example, workers at LCBO stores were offered testing in the last few days along with Toronto police, said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, who was brought in to lead the testing strategy. Several liquor store workers have tested positive in the last few months.
If there are concerns about the virus in a particular business, mobile teams will be sent in to test, he added.
There are also plans to support “enhanced testing” for hospital workers and their families, residents and staff in retirement homes, and more testing in nursing homes, where a first testing blitz of all residents and staff was completed two weeks ago after the new coronavirus raced through hundreds of facilities. About 30 per cent of retirement home testing has been completed.
That testing will continue next week in addition to testing open to the public at Ontario’s 131 assessment centres, which changed their criteria two weeks ago to allow anyone with one symptom of COVID-19 to be swabbed, along with people with no symptoms but occupational risk of exposure, such as health-care workers, their families and grocery-store workers.
Previously, people with mild or moderate symptoms were turned away from testing centres and told to self-isolate at home. Confusion over eligibility prompted Ford to issue a plea for people to get checked under the new criteria.
The goal going forward is to “identify, contain and monitor” new cases and spread of COVID-19, officials said, releasing figures showing 55 per cent of test results are available the next day and 82 per cent within two days.
Aside from communities with a higher number of cases, officials will also focus on “high-risk” individuals, such as hospital patients and cross-border workers.
Officials are aiming to increase Ontario’s lab capacity to get ready for the fall, when more respiratory symptoms will pop up and create “a need for greater testing,” Allen said.
Ontario’s testing for COVID-19 has ramped up this week and is close to peaks rarely reached as the number of cases since the illness arrived four months ago approached 29,000 with almost 2,300 deaths.
Ministry of Health figures released Friday show 18,525 nasal swabs were processed at a network of provincial, hospital and commercial labs across the province the previous day.
The provincial daily lab capacity is just over 20,000.
Results were in progress on another 13,351 samples and there have now been 680,687 tests processed in the province of 14.5 million, or 4.7 per cent of the population.
There were another 391 confirmed and probable cases as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Star compilation of data from health units in the previous 24 hours.
That raised the total number of cases to 28,544 and 2,272 deaths.
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About 66 per cent of cases have been in the Greater Toronto Area.
To date, at least 1,625 nursing-home residents have died, and there are outbreaks in 123 homes, down six from the previous day. But 1,476 nursing-home residents and 1,113 staff members are still fighting active cases of the highly contagious virus that spreads easily in close quarters.
The Ministry of Health said there were 826 Ontarians in hospital for COVID-19, with 129 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. While the first two numbers were down from the previous day, there were six more patients who had to be put on ventilators to breathe.
Just under 21,000 Ontarians have recovered from the virus.
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