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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario hit with 148 new cases; Calgary poultry processing plant to stay open despite outbreak; Two members of Canadian military test positive for COVID-19 – Toronto Star



The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

4 p.m.: Manitoba health officials say a worker at a long-term care facility in Brandon has tested positive for COVID-19.

They say a case previously identified in the Prairie Mountain Health region is a worker from the Hillcrest Place personal care home. While the worker wore personal protective equipment and is self-isolating, the facility is putting additional measures in place to further reduce the risk to residents and staff, including restricting visitation.

3 p.m.: Some 38,000 people participated in a rally against coronavirus restrictions in Berlin despite police efforts to disperse the crowds due to the risk of COVID-19 contagion.

Police said that about 300 people were arrested throughout the day, with two-thirds of those detained outside the Russian embassy, where thousands of far-right protesters and members of the extremist Reich Citizens’ Movement violently clashed with police.

About 3,000 police officers were deployed. The crowds included conspiracy theorists who do not believe COVID-19 exists, and anti-vaccination campaigners.

2:02 p.m.: Two members of the Canadian military who recently flew back to Canada from the Middle East have tested positive for COVID-19, the Defence Department said Saturday.

In a statement, the department said the Canadian Armed Forces members were aboard a flight bringing 35 personnel from Operation IMPACT, a Middle East training mission, back to Canada.

“While all COVID-19 health and safety protocols and precautions were observed before, during, and after the flight, there does remain a risk for deployed personnel,” the statement read.

The flight stopped overnight at Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay, N.L., on Aug. 24, and all the crew and passengers stayed in isolated accommodations on the base.

1:49 p.m.: School boards need to pick up the pace of air quality improvements as schools reopen this fall, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday, urging them not to move “on government time” as they rush to spend millions in funding allocated earlier this week.

Ford’s remarks came just days after the province told school boards they should spend $50 million by Thanksgiving to upgrade air quality in schools in an effort to bolster COVID-19 safety measures.

School boards, opposition politicians and school repair advocates said the government timeline will be difficult to meet.

But Ford said Friday that the money is there, boards need to move now as students return to the classroom in weeks.

1:39 p.m.: A Nevada man has become the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with coronavirus for a second time amid similar reports of reinfection out of Hong Kong.

The 25-year-old from Reno initially tested positive for the virus in April. He later recovered, but was again diagnosed in June —this time with significantly more severe symptoms, according to a new study from the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine.

1:27 p.m.: The Sofina Foods/Lilydale poultry processing plant in Calgary will remain open despite a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

An Alberta Health official said Friday there had been 19 cases of the virus with 18 of them still considered active.

But an official with the company said the number is now higher than that.

“Alberta Health Services (AHS) confirmed that, after we encouraged all our employees to take a second test, 9 additional individuals tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. This brings our total to 27 employees, all from the same shift,” said spokesperson Daniele Dufour said in an email to The Canadian Press.

1:26 p.m.: Nurses on the front lines of New York’s COVID-19 pandemic are calling for the state to enact minimum staffing standards ahead of another wave of infections.

Health care industry leaders, though, warn that passing such a law would saddle facilities with billions of dollars in extra costs they can’t afford.

1:25 p.m.: The city of Detroit will hold a memorial to honour residents who have died from the coronavirus.

A memorial drive at Belle Isle State Park is scheduled for Monday. Mayor Mike Duggan declared the day as Detroit Memorial Day to remember residents who didn’t have the funerals because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Families will drive in 15 processions past nearly 900 enlarged photos of their loved ones. Hearses will lead the processions. More than 1,500 Detroit residents have died from complications of the virus.

1:24 p.m.: In the city that’s lost about 20,000 people to COVID-19, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is staking his legacy on a bet that he can safely open the largest school system in the U.S.

“The whole country is looking at New York City and saying, how did they possibly do it?” de Blasio said this week, referring to the city’s positive-test rate of 1%. “The unity that people have shown in this crisis —that is what we are going to bring to our next big opportunity to move forward. And that’s reopening our schools.”

Less than two weeks remain from the Sept. 10 start, though there’s no consensus on his plan to do so. The teachers union has threatened a strike unless more than 1 million students and 120,000 teachers and staff get tested. The principals’ union has pleaded for a delay. Dozens of student leaders have lobbied for remote-only instruction.

De Blasio hasn’t budged, presenting his hybrid of in-school and at-home learning as a reward for New Yorkers’ sacrifices.

12:27 p.m.: Trump’s program to cover uninsured COVID-19 patients falls short of promise.

The program has drawn little attention since, but a review by The New York Times of payments made through it, as well as interviews with hospital executives, patients and health policy researchers who have examined the payments, suggest the quickly concocted plan has not lived up to its promise.

It has caused confusion at participating hospitals, which in some cases have mistakenly billed patients who should be covered by it. Few patients seem to know the program exists, so they don’t question the charges. And some hospitals and other medical providers have chosen not to participate in the program, which bars them from seeking any payment from patients whose bills they submit to it.

Large numbers of patients have also been disqualified because COVID-19 has to be the primary diagnosis for a case to be covered (unless the patient is pregnant). Since hospitalized COVID patients often have other serious medical conditions, many have other primary diagnoses. At Jackson Health in Miami, for example, only 60% of uninsured COVID-19 patients had decisively met the requirements to have their charges covered under the program as of late July, a spokeswoman said.

12:22 p.m.: Canada’s top doctor has warned Canadians not to assume a COVID-19 vaccine will see an end to public-health measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing.

But a medical researcher from Mount Pearl is not so sure. Dr. Stephen Walsh is on a team in Boston that’s in the final phase of human testing on a promising COVID-19 vaccine that may be a first of its kind.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters earlier this month that management of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue for at least a year.

“(We are) certainly planning for the longer term of the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet,” she said.

12:20 p.m.: Newfoundland and Labrador now has one active case of COVID-19 after a resident of the Eastern Health region returned home from travel in Asia.

The Department of Health said in a news release Friday the person is a female under the age of 19, and she did not show symptoms while en route.

It’s the 48th case stemming from international travel since the first COVID-19 case was detected in March. The province has had no more than four active cases at any one time since May 21.

12:18 p.m.: There are 127,614 confirmed cases in Canada.

Quebec: 62,232 confirmed (including 5,755 deaths, 55,235 resolved)

Ontario: 42,083 confirmed (including 2,809 deaths, 38,126 resolved)

Alberta: 13,476 confirmed (including 237 deaths, 12,054 resolved)

British Columbia: 5,496 confirmed (including 204 deaths, 4,310 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 1,611 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,543 resolved)

Manitoba: 1,155 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 693 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 1,083 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,013 resolved)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 182 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

Nunavut: No confirmed cases



Total: 127,614 (0 presumptive, 127,614 confirmed including 9,113 deaths, 113,466 resolved)

11:48 a.m.: Quebec is reporting 156 new cases of COVID-19 as well as five additional deaths. Health authorities say none of the death occurred in the past 24 hours.

The spike in new cases, which is the highest reported since July 30, comes two days after most French-language schools in the province opened.

Hospitalizations remained stable over the past 24 hours at 117, with 17 people in intensive care. In total, there have been 5,755 deaths and 62,232 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The new case total reflects the fact that 78 false positive tests have now been removed from the calculations after samples were contaminated at a Montreal lab.

11:31 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 148 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths related to the coronavirus.

The total number of cases now stands at 42,083, which includes 2,809 deaths and 38,126 cases marked as resolved.

There were 103 cases newly marked as resolved in today’s report. The province says 51 people are currently in hospital with the virus and 17 are in intensive care.

It says five people are on ventilators. The province was able to complete 32,106 tests in the previous day.

7:38 a.m.: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is announcing a new process for reopening businesses that is slower and more gradual than what the state tried earlier this summer.

French President Emmanuel Macron is urging European neighbours to better co-ordinate cross-border virus restrictions as infections resurge. Multiple countries have imposed tests or quarantines on visitors from France.

7:37 a.m.: The British government is encouraging workers to return to their offices amid concern that the number of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting coffee bars and restaurants and turning city centres into “ghost towns.”

7:36 a.m.: South Korea has reported 323 new cases of the coronavirus as health officials prepare to tighten distancing restrictions in the greater capital area.

The 16th consecutive day of triple-digit jumps brought the national caseload to 19,400. Fatalities reached 321 after five more deaths overnight.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that 249 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live. Health workers have struggled to track infections linked to churches, restaurants, schools and apartment buildings.

7:35 a.m.: Malaysia has extended its pandemic movement restrictions including a ban on foreign tourists until the end of the year.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address late Friday that global cases have been rising and the country has seen sporadic virus clusters even though the situation was under control.

Malaysia has recorded more than 9,000 cases with 125 deaths.

7:30 a.m.: Rental prices have dipped and landlords are facing stiffer competition for tenants in Canada’s two hottest housing markets in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It seems like a renter’s market in Toronto and Vancouver for the first time in years… The latest numbers from the listing service PadMapper show the cost to rent in Toronto and Vancouver continued to decline in the last month, while smaller, neighbouring cities saw increases.

The company pegged the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto at $2,100, down 8.7 per cent from last August, while the cost in Vancouver was down 6.4 per cent to $2,060.

The costs to rent a two-bedroom unit were also down, according to PadMapper’s latest rent report that used around 10,200 listings in Toronto and 1,400 in Vancouver to estimate the median prices.

More on this story.

Saturday 7:28 a.m.: There are 127,358 confirmed cases in Canada.

Quebec: 62,124 confirmed (including 5,750 deaths, 55,106 resolved)

Ontario: 41,935 confirmed (including 2,809 deaths, 38,023 resolved)

Alberta: 13,476 confirmed (including 237 deaths, 12,054 resolved)

British Columbia: 5,496 confirmed (including 204 deaths, 4,310 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 1,611 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,543 resolved)

Manitoba: 1,096 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 664 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 1,083 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,013 resolved)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 182 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)

Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

Nunavut: No confirmed cases

Total: 127,358 (0 presumptive, 127,358 confirmed including 9,108 deaths, 113,234 resolved)

Read Friday’s coronavirus news

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Woman suspected of mailing ricin to White House arrested at U.S.-Canada border –



Three U.S. law enforcement officials say a woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to the White House and President Donald Trump, has been arrested at the New York-Canada border.

The officials say the woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and is expected to face federal charges. The officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Aaron Bowker of the CBP confirmed with CBC News that the arrest took place at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., and that the individual was travelling from Canada into the United States.

The letter had been intercepted earlier this week before it reached the White House.

An RCMP spokesperson told CBC News on Saturday that it was assisting the FBI in the investigation and that “initial information from the investigation suggests that the letter originated in Canada.”

An official from the Western District of New York told CBC News on Monday they “don’t have a time yet for a court appearance.”

There have been several prior instances in which U.S. officials have been targeted with ricin, which can be derived from castor oil plants.

A navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes containing the substance from which ricin is derived to Trump, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray and James Mattis, then the secretary of defence. At least two of the letters made it to a Pentagon mail sorting facility.

The Utah man has yet to be tried in the case and could face life in prison if found guilty.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to then-president Barack Obama and other officials.

The previous year, a woman was accused of mailing ricin-laced letters to Obama and Michael Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York City. The woman, who tried to frame her husband for the scheme, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after reaching a plea deal.

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Canada confirms 873 more coronavirus infections as cases continue to surge – Global News



Canada has diagnosed 873 more people with the novel coronavirus, bringing the country’s surging case count to 143,527 on Sunday.

Provincial and territorial health authorities reported six more people had died from the virus, although those numbers are incomplete as British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Northwest Territories did not report updates over the weekend.

Since the pandemic began, 9,217 people have died from COVID-19 in Canada, while 124,691 have recovered from the virus after falling ill. So far, more than 7.8 million tests have been administered across the country.

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Twenty new cases and no new deaths were reported in Saskatchewan. A total of 1,807 infections have been diagnosed there since the pandemic began. Of those, 24 patients have died and 1,643 have recovered.

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Health officials have administered 171,945 tests so far.

In Manitoba, provincial health authorities detected 29 new confirmed cases of the virus, though one previously announced diagnosis was removed from the total. Overall, the province has recorded 1,586 cases.

As of Sunday, the province had administered 164,177 tests in total, while 1,216 people had recovered after becoming infected and 16 people had died.

Ontario has diagnosed 46,849 people with the the virus, including 365 announced Sunday along with one more death.

To date, 2,827 people have died throughout the province while more than 3.5 million tests for COVID-19 have been conducted and 40,968 people have recovered.

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In Quebec, the province hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials confirmed 462 new cases of the virus, bringing the provincial tally to 67,542.

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In total, the province has confirmed 5,802 people have died from the virus, including five deaths on Sunday. One of those deaths occurred within the last 24 hours, while the other four occurred earlier this month. So far, more than 2 million people in Quebec have been tested for the virus, while 58,796 have recovered.

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Coronavirus: Ontario cracks down on social gathering sizes across entire province

New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 or deaths relating to the virus, and only one case remains active. The provincial tally remains at 194 confirmed diagnoses and two deaths.

There have been 69,791 tests for the virus administered by the province.

Nova Scotia’s provincial cases numbers remained at 1,086 after health authorities detected no new infections or deaths. In total, 88,514 people have been tested, 65 have died and 1,021 are in recovery.

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Newfoundland and Labrador saw no new cases of COVID-19 reported Sunday. The provincial total remains at 272, while health authorities said a total of three people had previously died from the virus.

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N.L. has conducted more than 37,738 tests for COVID-19, while 268 people have recovered from the virus.

Nunavut confirmed its first two cases of the virus on Saturday. However, a spokesperson from the territory said the cases will not be counted in Nunavut as the individuals who contracted COVID-19 were not residents.

“[The cases] will be counted in the jurisdiction where they contracted the virus,” they said.

So far, 2,593 tests have been administered in Nunavut.

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In British Columbia, provincial health officials reported a total of 7,720 cases on Friday and 223 deaths.

In Alberta provincial health officials recorded 107 new infections Friday for a cumulative total of 16,381 infections and 255 deaths.

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Coronavirus: Biden compares U.S. and Canada COVID-19 deaths to show Trump administration’s failures

No new cases were diagnosed in Prince Edward Island during its most recent update on Wednesday, keeping the provincial tally at 57. The province has yet to see its first COVID-19-related death.

To date, 56 in the province have recovered from the virus.

All 15 confirmed cases in the Yukon have recovered. Nobody in the territory has died from the virus.

All five confirmed cases in the Northwest Territories have also recovered.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canadians are still flocking to parks and businesses as country braces for second wave – CTV News



Even though the back-to-school season has coincided with a steady rise in Canada’s active COVID-19 case count and fears that a second wave may soon be upon us, Canadians do not seem to be meaningfully adjusting their behaviour when it comes to leaving the house.

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said Sunday that a lot of Canadians seem to be taking a “we can do whatever we want” approach to their life in recent weeks.

“It feels to me like a lot of people just threw up their hands and said ‘I’m tired of this. I’m hugging, I’m going out, I’m seeing friends,'” he told Sunday on CTV News Channel.

That feeling is backed up by data compiled by Google and Apple, which shows that Canadians are spending more time in parks and at businesses than they were even in the first half of the summer, when the country first emerged from its various pandemic-imposed lockdowns.

Google bases its public mobility reports on information gleaned from users of its services who allow the company to keep track of the destinations they visit.

According to its most recent report for Canada, dated Sept. 11, Canadians are spending 151 per cent more time in parks than they were before the pandemic began.

This can be partially explained by the calendar; of course a park will be busier in September than it was in February. More telling, though, is that based on Google’s data, park usage has steadily increased over the past few months – from 80 per cent above the baseline level in early June to 140 per cent in mid-July to 150 per cent on Sept. 11.


Also increasing has been Canadians’ activity in retail and recreation settings – what Google terms “places like restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theatres.”

At the height of the lockdown, in early April, activity at these establishments was as much as 80 per cent below Google’s pre-pandemic baseline. That number has slowly crept back up ever since, even surpassing it on Labour Day weekend before settling in for a longer stay just below the baseline.

Labour Day weekend also represents a peak in Apple’s mass-collected mobility trends report for Canada. Apple found that requests made for driving directions were 88 per cent higher on Sept. 4 than they were on Jan. 13 (their pre-pandemic baseline), while requests for walking directions were up by 80 per cent. Both numbers were at their highest points in 2020. (Requests for public transit directions were about two-thirds of their pre-pandemic levels, or about four times what they were at the height of the pandemic.)

Time spent in grocery stores and pharmacies has been slightly above Google’s baseline for the past month, suggesting Canadians may be doing more supermarket shopping to make up for the decreasing number of meals eaten out.

The amount of time spent at home, meanwhile, has fallen from 20 per cent in early May to 10 per cent in mid-July to eight per cent on Sept. 11.

Taken together, all of this implies Canadians feel safer leaving their homes now than they did not only early on in the pandemic, but also for most of the summer.

That would certainly make sense if the novel coronavirus was still slowing its spread across Canada – but aside from Atlantic Canada and the territories, that’s hardly been the case.

Canada’s active case count has been rising since early August and is more than double what it was one month ago, according to a CTV News tally. Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia have all begun to re-enact some of the restrictions lifted earlier in the summer. All four provinces show similar patterns in the Google data, with their residents spending less time at home and more time out in public than they were even a month or two ago.

“We know what to do; we just aren’t necessarily doing it as well as we could,” Dr. Brian Conway, president and medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, said Sunday on CTV News Channel.

“Certain individuals are making decisions … not to follow all of the public health recommendations, and this leads to an increase in cases.”


Because of the increasing COVID-19 diagnosis numbers and rolling back of reopenings, there is a rising belief that Canada is on the precipice of a second wave of the pandemic.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told CTV News Channel on Sunday that she believes “some form of a second wave” is already underway in Ontario and Quebec.

“We don’t know yet if it’s going to be a big wave or one of those smaller waves that we can control. That really, really depends on how people manage themselves,” she said.

Dr. Theresa Tam said this week that “the time to act is now,” noting that the daily new case numbers more accurately reflect how society was responding to the virus two weeks ago than how it is responding today.

Of course, the rising numbers do not come as a surprise to Canada’s chief public health officer. She warned in July that Canada could see a “backslide” if too many Canadians continued to ignore public health advice, and cautioned in August that the fall would be a “period of challenge” due to cooling weather and the back-to-school period.

On the surface, something doesn’t add up. The warnings from authorities have been constant and consistent, and are starting to come true – and yet Canadians are still spending more time in public, where contact with the virus is more likely.

One possible explanation is that quarantine fatigue has set in.

Also known as pandemic fatigue, response fatigue and many other terms, quarantine fatigue is essentially the idea that citizens are tired of the pandemic and no longer take the necessary precautions to stop it.

This is why “we can’t let our guard down” is such a common refrain from political and medical leaders – both in Europe, where the World Health Organization is now warning about quarantine fatigue as cases skyrocket, and in Canada, where authorities hope to avoid the same scenario.

Barrett said that Canadians “really need to take to heart” the advice from public health leaders, spending less time outside the home and keeping their social circles to a small number.

“If people are able to do the things that have already been suggested, we may be able to keep a handle on things,” she said.

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