The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday (this file will be updated throughout the day):
12:10 p.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians have his “unwavering commitment” to uphold the country’s democratic principles.
The comment follows Opposition anger over draft legislation that promised $82 billion in emergency aid for those struggling the COVID-19 pandemic, but also gave the federal cabinet extraordinary powers to control taxes and spending.
Trudeau says the pandemic is moving extremely quickly, which is why the government was looking at measures to respond just as fast.
However, he also says Canada has a “Parliament that works” and the government is working with opposition parties to draft the appropriate legislation to ensure Canadians are safe and supported.
12:05 p.m.: Durham Region declares state of emergency. “The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority,” regional chair John Henry said in a statement. “We are and will continue to work out of the Emergency Operations Centre to maintain the essential social services, public works and health-care services you rely on.”
11:59 a.m.: Social distancing measures will be in place for “many more weeks,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, in reply to question about how President Donald Trump wants to get this over with ASAP.
11:58 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says not all premiers were supportive of federal Emergencies Act powers, but they will continue discussions and do what’s necessary.
11:55 a.m.: Ontario has granted nursing homes similar emergency powers to hospitals, allowing cancellation of vacations and transfers of staff as needed to cope with any COVID-19 outbreak. Residents no longer allowed out on day trips to limit chances they contract the virus.
11:50 a.m.: Among the 85 new cases in Ontario were people who had travelled to the United States, Brazil, Austria, Dubai, Italy and Singapore.
According to the latest report, 32,457 patients had been tested; 21,795 are negative; 10,074 cases are currently under investigation, with eight cases resolved. Complete information is not listed for most of the new cases.
It’s the biggest one-day increase that Ontario reported after announcing 78 new cases Monday.
11:49 a.m.: The union representing Air Canada’s pilots says up to 600 of its members will go on unpaid leave in the coming months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Capt. Michael McKay, head of the Air Canada Pilots Association, says the union has agreed to a plan for a maximum of 600 pilots on furlough.
The 4,400 pilots have also agreed to reduced pay across the board and “simplified contract language” to allow pilots to retire earlier.
McKay says a “precipitous drop in passenger demand and the challenging operating environment” have prompted the changes.
11:40 a.m.: Ontario announces 85 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 588. The province also announces one more death, a man in his 90s in Durham Region, bringing Ontario’s death toll to seven.
11:30 a.m.: Cleaners are at the frontline of the COVID-19 battle. But some have no protective gear, and earn less than $13 an hour to keep big grocery stores safe. “We are always in contact with people. And we don’t have the necessary equipment.” Read the report from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh.
11:15 a.m.: A resident at Sunnybrook Hospital’s veterans care facility has tested positive for COVID-19. In a memo circulated Monday evening, medical director Dr. Jocelyn Charles notified families of residents at the facility that a resident had tested positive and is currently in self-isolation.
11:04 a.m.: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a “total lockdown” in the country of 1.3 billion people during a televised address Tuesday night, the most extensive stay-at-home order yet in the world’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
11 a.m.: The North American tour dates for hit musical “Miss Saigon” were cancelled due to the effects of COVID-19, the production company announced Tuesday.
The musical was scheduled to run at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre from May 5 to May 24. Mirvish Productions is telling ticket-holders to visit mirvish.com for refunds or credits.
Miss Saigon is one of several theatrical events, including hit musical Hamilton, to be disrupted in the past month due to COVID-19.
10:58 a.m.: President Donald Trump seems to be growing more impatient by the day with the economic fallout from U.S. efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Trump says via Twitter today that Americans are anxious to get back to work, where they would still be able to practise social distancing and other measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The message, which the president and his economic advisers began pushing Monday, is at odds with public-health experts who say work and school closures and stay-at-home measures are key to limiting the spread of illness.
10:20 a.m.: Bombardier Inc. is temporarily halting production in Canada and suspending its 2020 financial forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company says it is stopping all non-essential work in the country, including aircraft and rail production in Quebec and Ontario.
It says employees impacted by the shutdown will be placed on furlough, with workers as well as executives forgoing pay.
Board members have also agreed to forgo compensation for the remainder of the year.
10:15 a.m.: Health coalitions in several provinces from the Maritimes to British Columbia are urging the federal government not to allow the COVID-19 crisis to be used to dismantle universal, public health care.
In a joint statement, groups including the Canadian Health Coalition and Friends of Medicare say all levels of government must work together to reclaim and increase the capacity of the public health-care system.
In addition to ensuring all services from testing to vaccination and hospital stays remain available free of charge, the coalitions support Spain’s decision to bring for-profit health care facilities under public control.
They say a robust public health-care system is the best defence against challenges like the novel coronavirus but they argue it has been eroded by decades of austerity and needs a renewed commitment.
10:10 a.m.: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his MPs will help pass emergency economic measures that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week to cushion the blow from COVID-19.
But Scheer says Conservatives won’t give the consent the Liberals would need to take massive new taxing and spending powers for the cabinet, without Parliament’s supervision.
Scheer says he wants to ensure Canadian families and workers receive financial help to pay their bills and put food on their tables.
That’s why Scheer says he doesn’t want conversations about new powers for the Liberal government to get in the way of that assistance getting to Canadians.
9:49 a.m.: A statement from G7 finance ministers and central bankers says the group will do “whatever is necessary” to restore economic confidence and protect jobs and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nations, representing seven of the world’s leading economies, are also asking other countries to do the same.
Among the nations is Canada, represented by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the Bank of Canada.
The statement says countries affected by COVID-19 should expand their budget spending and support to financial institutions to mitigate the negative shock from the pandemic – and do so for as long as possible.
9:25 a.m.: The latest update on the Johns Hopkins website Tuesday morning reports the number of cases worldwide at 392,780 with 17,159 deaths. Among those, 102,980 have recovered from the illness. China still has the highest number of cases (81,588), followed by Italy (63,927), the United States (46,481), Spain (39,673) and Germany (30,150).
9:15 a.m.: The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau are asking residents to limit interprovincial travel between their two cities.
The economies of the two cities, divided by the Ottawa River, are closely linked. In a joint statement, the mayors say the situation with COVID-19 is likely to develop differently on either side of the river.
They say they want to make sure people don’t spread the virus outside of their neighbourhoods or across the provincial border.
9:05 a.m.: Ontario is expected to announce a temporary cut in hydro rates as many people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A senior government source, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the announcement publicly, says the province will lower rates for the next 45 days.
The source says it will be done by moving all of the current time-of-use pricing to off-peak rates.
Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement at 1 p.m alongside the province’s minister of energy and other officials.
9:02 a.m.: Chinese authorities said Tuesday they will end a two-month lockdown of most of coronavirus-hit Hubei province at midnight, as domestic cases of what has become a global pandemic subside.
People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said, easing restrictions on movement that were unprecedented in scale. The city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in December, is to remain locked down until April 8.
China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan beginning Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded that to most of the province in succeeding days. Trains and flights were cancelled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.
8:58 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals back off their move to seek broad powers to hike taxes and spend money without Parliament’s approval. Read more from the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.
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8:47 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he expects the pandemic to be over by next year and the Olympics can be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest. On Sunday night, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics unless the Games were postponed this year. The Games were supposed to take place July 24-Aug. 9.
8:38 a.m.: IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed “100 per cent” to a proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday.
Abe said after his telephone talks with Bach that he requested a postponement of about one year “taking into consideration the current circumstances” and to secure an environment in which athletes can perform in their best conditions and the sense of safety and security for the audience.
Abe held telephone talks with Bach after the IOC said it would make a decision on the Tokyo Games over the next four weeks.
8:37 a.m.: One in five Canadians weren’t taking the deadly COVID-19 pandemic seriously as recently as last weekend, a new poll suggests.
In a Leger poll conducted between Friday and Sunday, 16 per cent of respondents said the crisis was partly blown out of proportion and another four per cent believed it was blown way out of proportion.
8:30 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Abe says IOC president has agreed “100 per cent” to proposal of postponing Olympics for about one year.
8:05 a.m.: Prices continue to soar in Toronto real estate market despite COVID-19 crisis. Details from the Star’s Tess Kalinowski.
7:42 a.m.: Japan’s NHK television says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose one-year Olympic postponement during talks with the IOC.
7:35 a.m.: Global stocks surged Tuesday while U.S. futures raced ahead so much that trading had to be halted, after U.S. political leaders said they were nearing a deal on a massive government stimulus package to offset the damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stock markets around the world, from Japan’s Nikkei to Germany’s DAX, have spiked by more than 5 per cent. Wall Street was also headed for similar gains at the bell, which according to regulations means that trading is suspended temporarily. Despite the gains, most indexes are down around a third from where they started the year.
In the U.S., sentiment appears to have been boosted after top congressional and White House officials emerged from grueling negotiations over a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal Tuesday.
7:30 a.m.: 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 new coronavirus, its prime minister announced Tuesday as the International Monetary Fund warned that a shortage of medical supplies could affect the Mideast’s poorest nations.
There are over 31,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the Mideast, the vast majority in the hard-hit nation of Iran.
Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly told a news conference that the 11-hour curfew, from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. would go into effect Wednesday across the country. He said many kinds of transportation will be halted during the curfew.
Egypt has 366 confirmed cases and 21 fatalities, including two senior military officers.
5:40 a.m.: 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.
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.
4 a.m.: There are 2091 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada
Quebec: 628 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 1 resolved)
Ontario: 503 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 8 resolved)
British Columbia: 472 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 6 resolved)
Alberta: 301 confirmed (including 1 death)
Saskatchewan: 65 confirmed, 1 presumptive
Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed
Newfoundland and Labrador: 4 confirmed, 20 presumptive
Manitoba: 14 confirmed, 6 presumptive
New Brunswick: 8 confirmed, 9 presumptive
Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: 13 confirmed
Prince Edward Island: 3 confirmed
The Territories: 3 confirmed
Total: 2091 (36 presumptive, 2055 confirmed including 24 deaths, 15 resolved)
2:03 a.m.: Chinese authorities are lifting a lockdown in most of Hubei province. People who are cleared will be able to leave the province after midnight Tuesday.
The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8. China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 and expanded it to most of the province in succeeding days.
11:59 p.m.: The closure of all non-essential businesses in the province will begin at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning in efforts to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The closures will last for at least 14 days.
The government says that Ontarians will still have access to grocery stores and pharmacies, and their power and telecommunications will continue to run.
Businesses that support IT infrastructure service providers, power generation, natural gas distribution and clean drinking water will also stay open.
Click here for a list of all the essential services staying open during this shutdown.
Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News
Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.
Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.
Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.
U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.
The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.
“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.
Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections
The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.
According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”
James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.
New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.
As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.
Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.
U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.
“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.
“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Trudeau says coronavirus projections for Canada will be shared in ‘coming days’ – Global News
That comes as Ontario released its projections for a two-year time span for the pandemic and the potential for 1,600 Ontarians to be dead by the end of the month despite the measures in place.
That’s compared to the potential death toll of 6,000 by the end of the month if there were none.
Countries around the world and several Canadian provinces have moved in recent days to share their best- and worst-case projections for potential death tolls from the virus.
As a result, Trudeau has faced growing calls for the federal government to share its own modelling given the extraordinary demands being placed on Canadians to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
But he has not committed to a specific date for that release, saying officials are still working with the provinces to get better-quality data to inform those models.
“There are things we will be sharing with Canadians but we need to make sure we have a better grasp on the data before we put projections out there,” he said.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also reiterated on Friday that those models will be coming shortly but cautioned they are not exact and rather a “best estimate” of what could happen.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.
Trudeau has insisted that releasing projection models is not as useful as sharing hard information, but his refusal so far to share best- and worst-case scenarios has prompted criticism and calls to change.
Among those voices was former health minister Jane Philpott, who Trudeau kicked out of the Liberal caucus last year for raising concerns about his handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
She tweeted on Thursday that “this is not the time to hide bad news” and urged the government to offer “radical transparency” for Canadians.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also called for the release of the data on Friday morning.
“Mr. Trudeau says his government is being guided by the evidence,” he said. “It’s time to release that evidence.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections
The B.C. government shared its best- and worst-case forecasts roughly two weeks ago, along with the projected potential shortfalls in resources like intensive care beds.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney offered partial insight into that province’s projections Thursday night in the legislature as well, saying health officials there expect to see 250 Albertans need intensive care beds by April 22 — three weeks before they predict the number of cases in the province will peak.
Ford had initially resisted sharing Ontario’s projections with the public, saying as recently as Wednesday that he feared they might cause panic. He reversed course on Thursday, pledging to release the data.
“You deserve to see the same data that I see, you deserve to know what I know,” he said during a briefing with media on the state of the virus in the province.
A leaked report of the potential forecast in Saskatchewan was also obtained by Global News last week, and that shows the government there views 15,000 deaths as the worst-case scenario.
Countries around the world have started to offer their grim vision for how the disease could play out. In the United States, officials said Tuesday there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in that country as a result of COVID-19, with 200,000 expected even “if we do things almost perfectly.”
New Zealand published a government-commissioned model to design its “plan for” scenario, in which 65 per cent of the public becomes infected, 336,000 people require hospitalization and between 12,600 and 33,600 to die.
And a report by Reuters on Thursday cited a U.K. official as saying that country’s worst-case scenario was 50,000 deaths but also cautioning that isn’t being viewed as likely right now.
— With files from Global News’ Andrew Russell
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca
As global reported coronavirus case numbers pass one million — including more than 11,000 known cases in Canada — governments are scrambling to deal with both a mounting public health crisis and growing joblessness.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with premiers on Thursday about a range of issues, including the shortage of protective gear for health-care workers.
Faced with rising case numbers and tighter restrictions, there have been some calls for more information from governments about what is expected and what information is driving decisions.
Trudeau has said that such national modelling is coming “soon,” but requires more data from provincial and territorial governments — a subject he discussed with premiers during his more than two-hour first ministers’ conference call.
WATCH | Federal government under pressure to release coronavirus projections:
Ontario Premier Doug Ford intends to release provincial projection and modelling information Friday, saying that he wants people in the province to know “what I know.”
“No beating around the bush, no holding back figures,” he said Thursday, adding that the data provided would be hard for some people to hear.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the situation is evolving daily but that the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world Friday.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of 6 a.m. ET Friday, Canada had 11,283 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 166 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 1,979 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19 related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil.
Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case.
In British Columbia, six more people have died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 31 in the province. On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said one of the new cases reported was an inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta has declared coronavirus outbreaks at nine seniors facilities. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said there are now 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases in continuing-care facilities “and I expect that more will be confirmed in the coming days.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan’s top doctor says six more health workers have contracted COVID-19. “We are aware of at least six instances where individuals may have been working in a health-care setting but it’s not clear where the exposure was,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
In Manitoba, unions representing Health Sciences Centre workers say about 70 staff members — including doctors, nurses, clerks and security guards — are self-isolating after COVID-19 exposures. Read more about what’s happening at the Winnipeg health facility and across Manitoba.
WATCH | COVID-19: Are we doing a 180 on whether masks are beneficial?
Ontario plans to release what the premier called “stark” modelling projections about coronavirus in the province. The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, noted that the projections are forecasts that will give people a sense of what to prepare for. “If people see what might be possible, could be possible and what we might achieve through our ongoing energy and efforts of public health measures, physical distancing, it means we need to stay at the task and do our part to flatten the curve and impact that and change the projection as best we can.” Read more about what Ontario officials are expected to say.
Quebec’s premier said health-care workers who are in contact with COVID-19 cases will get an increase in pay. “I don’t think there is a group that has ever been more deserving of a pay raise,” said Premier François Legault, who also announced a smaller raise for health workers not in direct contact with the virus, as well as a raise for workers in long-term care facilities. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec, and get the details of the planned pay hikes.
Health officials in New Brunswick are worried about a potential shortage of COVID-19 test supplies. Premier Blaine Higgs told CBC’s Power & Politics if the province “ramped up a bit we could be within like a week of running out of test supplies.” Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
“If we ramped it up we could be within like a week of running out of test supplies,” said New Brunswick Premier <a href=”https://twitter.com/BlaineHiggs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BlaineHiggs</a>. He said the province is about 3-4 weeks away from running out of protective equipment — but they have orders pending that they hope will arrive. <a href=”https://t.co/Q91i0RWQOm”>pic.twitter.com/Q91i0RWQOm</a>
Nova Scotia on Thursday extended its state of emergency for another two weeks. The province also announced help for small businesses and a temporary program to help workers who don’t qualify for employment insurance. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island has announced a $1-million fund to help people not covered by other support programs announced since the COVID-19 crisis began. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I, and get the latest update from Premier Dennis King.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s health minister is urging people to prepare for an increase in cases. “We are, from experience of our other jurisdictions, not yet into our likely surge period. This is likely to come over coming weeks, and we are working hard to understand when that might be,” John Haggie said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Northwest Territories health officials have reported two travel-related COVID-19 cases, including one in a small community. The latest cases bring the territory’s case count up to four. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 6:30 a.m. ET
With more than 245,000 people infected with COVID-19 and the death toll topping 6,000, sobering preparations are underway in the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags because of the possibility funeral homes will be overwhelmed, the military said.
White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said U.S. infection data suggests Americans need to emulate those European nations that have started to see the spread of the virus slowing through strict physical distancing.
The Trump administration was formalizing new guidance to recommend Americans wear coverings such as non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas over their mouths and noses when out in public and preserve medical masks for those on the front lines.
But there are still shortages of critical equipment, including masks, in Europe and the U.S.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of breathing machines in six days. He complained that states are competing against each other for protective gear and breathing machines, or are being outbid by the federal government.
Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in hopes of boosting production of medical-grade masks by Minnesota-based 3M to assist first responders. Washington is also trying to crack down on a growing black market for protective medical supplies.
In a sign of the outbreak’s impact on the U.S. military, the captain of a navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the virus was fired by navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly says the ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit Italy, Spain and parts of Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9:45 a.m. ET
Europe’s three worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain and France — surpassed 30,000 dead, or over half of the global toll.
Spain is closing Friday a black week, with its death toll for the new coronavirus nearing 11,000. More than half of those occurred during the past seven days. There are also more infections than any other country in Europe.
The bottleneck in Spanish labs conducting the tests has led to relatively low levels of testing in Spain compared to other European countries, authorities have acknowledged. But even with statistics that are believed to be conservative in showing the extent of the epidemic, Spain on Friday neared 118,000 cases, second only to the United States. Official Health Ministry data showed that 7,472 of those infections had been in the past 24 hours. Spain also registered 932 new deaths, 18 less than its daily record of 950 the day before.
Italy, with more than 115,000 reported cases as of Friday morning, has seen new infections levelling off after three weeks of the West’s first nationwide shutdown.
The head of Germany’s disease control agency says the number of people who die of COVID-19 is likely being undercounted. Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute said Friday that he believes “we have more dead than are officially being reported.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wieler was suggesting that deaths are being undercounted only in Germany, or worldwide, and reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions during his online news conference. Germany’s low death rate from coronavirus has drawn international attention. Experts say the difference compared to other countries is partly due to mass testing and well-equipped hospitals, but they caution that the number of deaths is likely to rise.
The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 684 to 3,605 as of Thursday afternoon, up 23 per cent from the previous day. A total of 173,784 people have been tested, with 38,168 testing positive as of Friday morning. A new hospital was opened in London on Friday, erected to provide thousands of extra beds for patients with the coronavirus and built in just nine days. The Nightingale Hospital, which will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, will eventually be able to treat about 4,000 patients. It has been set up in the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.
With help from the military, it is the first of six new temporary hospitals to be set up across the country to cope with the outbreak, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow in Scotland. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter Friday he was remaining in isolation with mild symptoms of the coronavirus, including a high temperature. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II will give an address about the coronavirus on Sunday at 8 p.m.
The French prime minister said he is “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive. At least 570 people have died in nursing homes in France’s eastern region, suggesting the national death toll could be far higher than thought.
Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive, the country’s first such facility hit since the outbreak. Police in Greece say they have issued 17,358 fines for people breaking the new restrictions on leaving home since a lockdown began on March 23.
The Netherlands is not in a full lockdown, but bars, restaurants, museums, schools and universities are closed and the government is urging people to stay home and practise social distancing. Amsterdam is banning boats from its central canals beginning Sunday as authorities fear warm spring weather will lead to overcrowding on the famed waterways. The country’s public health institute on Friday reported 148 new deaths in the outbreak, bringing the Dutch death toll to 1,487.
Here’s a look at China, South Korea and some other areas of concern around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9:45 a.m. ET
The South Korean capital of Seoul says it will ask more than 8,500 theatregoers to self-monitor at home after Canadian and American cast members of The Phantom of the Opera were found to have the coronavirus.
Seoul City official Na Baek-ju said Friday the musical’s international tour was halted following the positive test of an unidentified Canadian actress, who began experiencing throat pain and dry coughs days after she began performing at the city’s Blue Square theatre on March 14. She last appeared on stage on Monday, a day before her test.
Officials have since tested 138 of her contacts, including colleagues and guests at the downtown Somerset Palace hotel, and confirmed the infection of an American actor on Thursday. Na said officials were still awaiting test results for 48 people while the other 89 tested negative. He said the hotel was ordered to prevent guests from leaving the property and stop taking new customers.
South Korea earlier on Friday reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 10,062.
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China on Friday reported 31 new confirmed virus cases, 29 of them from overseas, and four new deaths. China now has recorded a total of 81,620 cases and 3,322 deaths, although those figures are generally considered too low because of a lack of testing and a reluctance to report the scale of the original outbreak.
More than 3,000 health-care workers contracted COVID-19 and the government says 14 died of the disease. Among them was Dr. Li Wenliang, who was threatened with punishment by police after publicizing news of the outbreak but has since been listed among the national “martyrs.” His family was issued a “solemn apology” and two police officers were issued “disciplinary punishments” for their handling of the matter.
Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month as it moves to curb the increase of COVID-19 transmissions in the country. Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed from next Tuesday, and schools will be closed from Wednesday. Essential services such as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banking services will remain open.
“Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee urged residents to stay home and only leave to buy essential items.
The country has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and has routinely reported more than 50 new cases daily. As of Thursday, Singapore had 1,049 cases and five deaths. Singapore has also reversed its recommendations that people should wear masks only if they are feeling unwell.
“We will no longer discourage people from masks. Wearing a mask may help to protect others in case you have the virus but don’t know it,” said Lee, adding that the government will distribute reusable masks to all households as of Sunday.
Indonesia’s coronavirus death toll rose to 170, passing South Korea as the country with the highest number of recorded fatalities in Asia after China.
More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have closed their land, air and sea borders, while fears rise that the coronavirus-related restrictions are delaying access to critical aid. Humanitarian organizations are now in the extraordinary situation of negotiating humanitarian corridors in peaceful regions. And in Kenya, travel restrictions have delayed the delivery of pesticides needed to fight the most devastating locust outbreak some East African countries have seen in 70 years. A World Food Program official says lockdowns and other restrictions “may affect us very, very much” on a continent where millions of poor people must now stay at home.
India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as officials battle to contain the country’s biggest cluster of infections in New Delhi.
The Middle East has confirmed over 85,000 cases of the virus and over 3,700 deaths, most of them in Iran. Iran state TV reported Friday the virus killed another 134 people, pushing the country’s death toll to nearly 3,300 amid more than 53,000 confirmed cases. Iran’s parliament speaker is among those who have contracted the disease.
Pakistan, with 2,450 confirmed cases and 35 deaths, has been sharply criticized for moving too slow to curb large gatherings, including a gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims from several Islamic countries in March. The gathering of Tableeghi Jamaat missionaries is blamed for several outbreaks of the new virus elsewhere in the world. The first confirmed cases that emerged in Gaza were traced to the gathering.
Turkey is preparing to treat COVID-19 patients with blood donated from people who have survived the disease. Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent organization, late Thursday called on “heroes who have come out victorious from the ‘Corona War”‘ to donate blood for the treatment, which uses plasma from people who have recovered to help seriously ill patients. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry sent a circular to the country’s 81 provinces setting out guidelines for the volunteer blood plasma donations, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Australian officials closed internal borders on Friday and warned people to stay home over the upcoming Easter holiday as the country seeks to capitalize on a further fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases.
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