The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
12:11 p.m. Thousands more students returned to class under new pandemic precautions Tuesday, as public health officials in Ottawa said they were assessing the risk to 200 students and staff linked to a handful of cases.
The staggered start opened doors to elementary and high school students in six provinces where a host of COVID-19 protocols have reimagined everything from seating to lunch breaks to the playground.
But the reopening came with news of cases at five French-language Catholic schools in Ottawa, where some students returned earlier this month.
Ottawa public health says people connected to four elementary schools and one high school tested positive after catching the virus outside of the school setting. They say 193 students and seven staff members were told late Monday night to stay home.
Other boards in Ontario have delayed their restart over the next two weeks, with the country’s largest, the Toronto District School Board, set to begin a staggered opening next Tuesday.
12 p.m. Graduate students who teach classes were on strike Tuesday at the University of Michigan over in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.
The strikers chanted and held umbrellas while marching in the rain. “I do not want my students and colleagues to get a chronic illness because this university decided it was most important to collect tuition,” Surabhi Balachander wrote on Twitter.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, which represents more than 1,000 instructors, has called for a four-day strike.
Most classes at the University of Michigan have shifted to online. But the union says the university isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It robust plans for testing, contact tracing, and campus safety. It wants plans for testing and contact tracing, allowing graduate employees to work remotely and a more flexible childcare subsidy.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the strike is illegal under state law and the union contract, and the university plans to continue classes in the event of a strike.
12 p.m. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has reacted angrily to the local branch of World Health Organization voicing its opposition to his country’s possible plan to reduce contract tracing for the coronavirus.
The WHO says the situation in the Czech Republic “is concerning” and data shows “elevated and growing levels of transmission across many regions and districts.” It says the solution is not to stop tracing, but to rapidly scale up the service.
Babis tweeted the WHO should “keep quiet,” saying the country has one of the lowest death rates in Europe.
The Czech Republic has registered a surge of confirmed cases to record levels in recent days. Health authorities in Prague acknowledged they have reached their limit in contact tracing and up to 30% of contacts are not identified.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech says the plans is to make contact tracing more effective, not reduce it.
The Czech Republic has 28,716 confirmed cases and 437 confirmed deaths.
12 p.m. Turkey is requiring masks in all locations apart from homes, following a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections.
An Interior Ministry circular sent to the country’s 81 provinces on Tuesday says “citizens are obliged to wear masks without exception in all areas” excluding their residences.
Previously, the wearing of masks was mandatory in most public spaces, in shops and on public transportation, but not at workplaces.
On Monday, Turkey reported 1,703 new daily infections, the highest since mid-May.
Last week, Turkey barred social gatherings such as wedding and engagement parties and henna nights and restricted marriage ceremonies to one hour.
11:57 p.m. A major testing and contact-tracing operation at Greece’s largest migrant camp on the eastern island of Lesbos has so far detected 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the overcrowded facility’s 12,500 residents, authorities said Tuesday.
Health and migration ministry officials said medical teams have carried out 1,900 tests for the coronavirus on migrants at the Moria facility, which was initially designed to hold 2,800 people. Another 100 staff members have been tested, and none were found to have COVID-19.
Gkikas Magiorkinis, a member of a scientific committee advising the government, told a media briefing Tuesday that some optimism was allowed by the fact that most of the 35 migrants were relatively young and didn’t belong to high-risk groups.
“Although this doesn’t mean we should pay less attention and strive less to fight the epidemic” in Moria, he said. Out of the 35 cases, 18 were recorded Tuesday.
The camp has been quarantined until Sept. 15, with a police cordon to enforce the entry and exit ban.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said late Monday the infections were all linked with one Somali man who left the camp after being granted asylum in Greece, went to Athens but failed to find work and housing there and returned to Moria. Health officials weren’t immediately able Tuesday to confirm that the virus had been spread by the one man.
11:55 a.m. Porter Airlines Inc. is extending its suspension of all flights until Nov. 12, five weeks after its previously announced target to resume flying.
The Toronto-based airline grounded its fleet on March 21 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with initial plans to take off again in early June.
Travel restrictions and plummeting demand have prompted the company to push back its relaunch date several times.
Porter says the Atlantic Canada travel bubble, travel restrictions limiting those who can come to Canada and the ongoing two-week quarantine requirement for those entering the country are factors in its delayed restart.
CEO Michael Deluce says all of its markets are affected by the travel ban on would-be visitors to Canada.
The pandemic has devastated the airline industry, with the International
11:53 p.m. The federal government is extending its commercial rent-relief program one last time.
The Liberals say the program that aims to help small businesses with their rent or lease costs will be extended for this month, unveiling the details one week after rent was due.
In a release, the government says the one-month lifeline is a “final extension” for the program and that officials are looking at other options to help small businesses.
The rent-relief program provides forgivable loans that cover half of rent for eligible small businesses, and also requires landlords to waive a further one-quarter of what they’d otherwise be owed.
Property owners have to apply for the help, but take-up has lagged expectations and spending is projected to fall far short of the nearly $3 billion the Liberals have budgeted.
The government says that as of the start of this week, the program had provided over $1.32 billion in aid to more than 106,000 small-business tenants.
11:20 a.m. Two new studies made the case recently for an alternative to the invasive COVID-19 tests that require collecting a sample from deep in the nose. Saliva samples, both studies found, were nearly as reliable and far less of a hassle.
Anne Wyllie, a researcher at the Yale School of Public Health who was the lead author of one of the studies, said she hopes the work helps quell some of saliva’s detractors.
“There’s been a lot of debate about saliva versus swab,” she said. “I think some of it is not entirely justified.”
The U.S. is more than six months into a global pandemic made worse by delayed and disorganized testing efforts and there’s still no clear consensus on who to screen, when to do it, or even what the best way to do so is. These studies suggest saliva could present a compelling alternative to other tests — one that does not necessarily require trained personnel to collect a sample and therefore use up valuable personal protective gear or put staff at risk. Even if the tests are marginally less accurate, the tradeoff may be worth it.
In a second study from Canada in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers tested nearly 2,000 people with either mild symptoms of the virus or no symptoms but at a high risk of infection. Participants collected their own saliva and also took the traditional swab test: 34 came back positive in both tests. In 14 cases, virus was detected in the saliva sample, but not the nasal sample. In 22, the opposite was true.
Though the nasal sample had a slight edge in detecting infections, the University of Ottawa researchers said the study made a case for saliva samples.
11:11 a.m. Quebec health authorities are reporting 163 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths in the last 24 hours.
Previously, the province had seen two straight days with more than 200 new cases of the novel coronavirus.
The number of hospitalizations related to the virus remains at 105, while the number of patients in intensive care has dropped to 15.
Provincial Health Minister Christian Dube warned Quebecers ahead of the Labour Day weekend to maintain an adequate distance from others.
He is addressing the media this morning to discuss a regional alert system for COVID-19 cases.
Quebec has now seen 63,876 cases of COVID-19 and 5,770 deaths since the pandemic.
(Updated) 10:25 a.m. Ontario is reporting 375 new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days.
There were also 238 cases newly marked as resolved on Sunday and Monday in the provincewide report.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 185 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 190 recorded the day before.
The province is reporting two days worth of data today because of the holiday weekend.
The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 43,536, which includes 2,813 deaths and 39,196 cases marked as resolved.
The province was able to complete nearly 45,000 tests over the past two days.
10:20 a.m. The Star’s Kristin Rushowy sat down with Evy Kwong from the Star’s audience team to answer questions about back to school sent by readers and listeners in a Q&A last week.
Usually, a day after Labour Day, many kids, parents and teachers are ready and eager — and a bit nervours — to go back to school. But this year, during a pandemic, that nervousness is at a new high. What will this school year be like? What happends if a child or teacher in school tests positive for COVID-19? What about bussing? Or playing? Kids are kids, after all.
We will all have more questions. But Kristin Rushowy has been covering education for over a decade and will get you up to speed.
Listen to the full This Matters podcast here: Your back-to-school questions, answered
10 a.m. India officials say Russia had approached it to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials for the experimental Sputnik V vaccine and for Indian companies to potentially manufacture it.
Russian scientists published results from early trials of the experimental Sputnik V vaccine on Friday. Developers say the vaccine appeared to be safe and prompted an antibody response in all 40 people tested in the second phase of the study within three weeks.
The vaccine received government approval last month but drew considerable criticism from health experts because the shots had only been tested on several dozen people.
Dr. V.K. Paul heads a government task force on vaccines and called the partnership a “win-win for India and the world.” He says Tuesday that Russia had asked for assistance to conduct more research, including Phase 3 clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in India.
Officials say some companies had already come forward.
10 a.m. The Dutch public health institute says 5,247 people tested positive on Tuesday, an increase of 1,830 from the previous week.
There were 17 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, seven fewer than the previous week.
The increased infections came after schools reopened in recent weeks, but the health institute say there was “no significant increase” linked to transmissions at schools. It says a few clusters at schools involved mainly adults infecting other adults.
The health institute says the percentage of positive tests rose to 2.8% compared to 2.2% in the previous week.
8:41 a.m. Students in Ontario will begin returning to the classroom in person today for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province shuttered all schools on March 13 after cases of coronavirus disease began to rise.
This fall, boards will offer a mix of in-person classes and online learning for students who opt to stay home.
Some boards in different parts of the province will reopen schools today, while others will begin to restart over the next two weeks.
Last month, Education Minister Stephen Lecce gave boards permission to stagger school reopenings if they required more time to put pandemic safety protocols in place.
For instance, high school students will start orientation at the Peel District School Board today, with elementary students beginning Wednesday, while Toronto District School Board students will not begin returning to class until Sept. 15.
In Ottawa, where some students returned to class earlier this month, health officials say people at five French-language Catholic schools — four elementary and one high school — have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ottawa Public Health is reaching out to everyone who was in close contact with those infected and telling them to self-isolate and get tested, she said.
Follow the Star’s live coverage of the return to school today: Durham kids first in GTA to head back to school today
8:30 a.m. Students return to class in Manitoba and Saskatchewan today, and the differences this year due to COVID-19 begin with how they will arrive at school.
Parents in both provinces are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can, and in Saskatchewan children who ride the school bus may be assigned seats and a partition may separate the kids from the driver.
As far as mask wearing, Saskatchewan says it’s up to school boards to decide whether to make them mandatory, although the chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.
Manitoba, meanwhile, requires masks for grades 5 to 12 when physical distancing isn’t possible, and they will be required on the bus.
But kids in the Winnipeg School Division may not be able to ride the bus on their first day back, since the union representing the drivers have been preparing for a strike that’s to begin today.
The union and the school division have been bargaining since October 2019 after the drivers’ contracts expired in June of last year, and a spokeswoman for the division said late Monday there had been no movement on negotiations.
Students in Saskatchewan were originally scheduled to return to school as early as Sept. 1, but the province pushed back the date last month, explaining it wanted to give teachers and school staff a bit more time to prepare for a safe return.
8:06 a.m.: The U.N. agency for refugees says it has confirmed two coronavirus cases in the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
They are the first infections to be detected among Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, which are home to more than 100,000 Syrians displaced by that country’s civil war.
The UNHCR says the two patients have been transferred to quarantine facilities and their neighbours have been isolated as more testing is carried out.
8 a.m. A retiree in Austria says he received a U.S. government coronavirus relief check for $1,200, despite not having lived in America for over half a century.
The check, with President Donald Trump’s name on it, is part of a massive federal stimulus program. But the money also has been sent to people who aren’t eligible — including deceased U.S. taxpayers.
Austrian public broadcaster ORF reports the 73-year-old man from Linz, who worked as a waiter in the United States for two years in the 1960s, was able to cash the check.
His wife, who never worked or lived in the United States, got one too.
ORF reports banks in Austria confirm they’ve cashed dozens of checks for residents of the Alpine country. It’s unclear how many were entitled to the money.
8 a.m. The Indonesian government announced the country has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation reported 3,046 new coronavirus cases in Indonesia, bringing the total to 200,035 confirmed cases. It reported 100 people died in the last 24 hours, reaching a confirmed death toll of 8,230.
National COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito says, “We have to pay attention to our condition today as President Joko Widodo said that we have to take care of the health affairs first so the economic situation can get better.”
Indonesian government imposed large-scale social restrictions in the regions of the country in April. The regional governments lifted the restrictions and reopened the business activities in June.
8 a.m. Hong Kong is further relaxing social distancing measures, as the territory’s number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.
Hong Kong reported another six cases of the virus on Tuesday.
From Friday, the limit on public gatherings will be relaxed to four people, up from two people. Most indoor and outdoor sports facilities, as well as museums will be allowed to re-open.
The city has seen its coronavirus cases dwindle after a surge in locally-transmitted infections in July. Hong Kong has reported a total of 4,896 infections since the pandemic began, with 99 deaths.
Hong Kong officials said Tuesday that the city is in talks with 11 countries about setting up travel bubbles, which would allow residents to travel internationally even amid the pandemic.
Such travel bubbles would include a pre-flight coronavirus test that will be mutually recognized by both Hong Kong and the partnering country.
8 a.m. Austria’s leader says he wants to keep both ski resorts and schools open this winter as the country tries to keep coronavirus infections down while supporting the tourism industry.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said during a visit to Slovenia on Tuesday that the government will do everything to ensure that safe skiing is possible. The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl became an early European hot spot as the pandemic took off in March.
The Austria Press Agency reported that Kurz said that “we must try to lead as normal a life as possible in all areas of our life” and added that “winter tourism and skiing will be possible.” Asked whether skiing areas might have to be closed so that schools can remain open longer, he said: “I would not like to play schools the economy off against each other.”
Kurz said that post-skiing partying won’t be possible in the way it was previously, but didn’t give details.
8 a.m. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt has passed 100,000.
The Health Ministry reported 178 new cases late Monday. Since the pandemic began Egypt has recorded 5,541 virus deaths.
Egypt has recently relaxed most of its restrictions taken to stem the speed of the virus.
7:35 a.m.: The 166 remaining Tour de France riders have been cleared to continue racing ahead of Tuesday’s Stage 10 after undergoing COVID-19 tests, but the race director is going home.
Tour organizers said that all the riders’ tests returned negative but announced that race director Christian Prudhomme tested positive along with four staff members from four different teams who have been dropped from the race bubble.
5:35 a.m.: The British government faced pressure Tuesday to act fast to keep a lid on coronavirus infections after a sharp spike in new cases across the U.K. over recent days stoked concerns about the pandemic’s prospective path during winter.
In the wake of figures Monday showing that the U.K. recorded nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running, government ministers and scientists voiced concerns that the easing of the lockdown during the summer has prompted many people, particularly young adults, to let their guard down in a country that has seen Europe’s deadliest virus outbreak.
4:16 a.m.: India reported today 1,133 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total.
The Health Ministry also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India’s tally to nearly 4.3 million — second only to the United States and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain. The country’s death toll now stands at 72,775.
India has been reporting the highest single-day caseload in the world for more than a month.
The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Sept. 25 – CBC.ca
Canada signs deal to secure 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses, though none have proven successful yet
Canada has signed an agreement to secure another 20 million vaccine doses as the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies. During a news conference in Ottawa Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal with AstraZeneca on access to a vaccine prospect now being developed at Oxford University. As a result, the federal government has now secured access to six leading vaccine candidates. None of the candidates have been proven to work so far.
“We’ve been guided by science since the very beginning, and right now, both the COVID-19 vaccine task force and the immunity task force are doing important work to help us identify the most promising vaccine options and strategies,” he said. There is no approved vaccine yet for COVID-19, though there are many in clinical trials and in development.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the global market is intense and unpredictable. “Each supplier and therefore each negotiation is unique, with its own set of concerns,” she said. “The resulting agreements contain terms specifying the quantity, the price, the anticipated delivery schedule, the manufacturing and finishing parameters for each vaccine. When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
The federal government already has reached vaccine agreements with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, for a total of 282 million doses. Full payments to drug companies are contingent on the vaccines passing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval. Health Canada says it will review the evidence on safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality for each vaccine to determine if individual vaccines will be approved for use in Canada before they are made available to Canadians.
The government is also procuring equipment and supplies needed for vaccine manufacturing and packaging, as well as immunization equipment such as syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Trudeau also announced that Canada will provide $440 million to COVAX, a global procurement initiative meant to ensure fair, equitable and timely access to vaccines for less wealthy countries. “This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” Trudeau said.
Click below to watch more from The National
RCMP mask policy for bearded front-line officers ‘must be rectified’: Ottawa
The RCMP is facing accusations of discrimination because of a policy requiring front-line officers to wear properly fitting N95 respirator masks — something that might not be possible with a beard. Calls for a change in policy arose after some front-line officers with beards — including Sikh and Muslim RCMP members who leave their hair unshorn for religious reasons — were reassigned to desk duties over the mask issue.
On March 19, as Canada began dealing with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki sent out a directive outlining the use of respirator masks for front-line officers. Lucki said officers must ensure the respirator is sealed correctly, and “one of the most common causes of a breached seal is facial hair.”
World Sikh Organization legal counsel Balpreet Singh said Thursday the move has resulted in some Sikh officers being removed from their front-line duties during the pandemic. “It’s clearly a case of discrimination in that once again, Sikh officers are able to serve in the Canadian forces, were able to serve in different police forces, and there’s been really no issue. The fact that this has been allowed to linger for almost six months without a resolution — to me, it points to a larger issue of not understanding the need to accommodate.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair condemned the policy in a statement to CBC News on Friday. “All officers must be given equal opportunity to serve their community while practicing their faith. They must not experience discrimination based on religion,” read an email from the minister’s spokesperson. “The reports from the World Sikh Organization are concerning. It is essential for the RCMP to provide necessary personal protective equipment in a timely manner for Sikh officers. We have raised this matter with the RCMP, and expect that this be rectified as quickly as possible.”
Ontario closes strip clubs, imposes tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants
The Ontario government is implementing a number of new provincewide restrictions and public health measures aimed at curbing a surge in new cases of COVID-19.
“Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases,” the province said in a news release Friday afternoon. “Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group.”
As a result, the government is taking the following measures:
Last call at bars and restaurants, including nightclubs, is 11 p.m. All strip clubs will be closed until further notice. Require all businesses and organizations to comply with the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, including screening people who wish to enter their premises for COVID-19 symptoms. The orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
The provincial government also said it will work with municipalities to ramp up enforcement of public health regulations.
Why stock markets are up 44% amid the worst economic contraction in history
The economy is in a ditch, and millions of Canadian workers still find themselves unemployed or underemployed compared with where things were before COVID-19. And still the stock market is posting some record gains.
“It’s surprising how quickly they came back,” Robert Kavcic, senior economist at the Bank of Montreal, said of the markets. In March, stocks crashed. They fell so steep and so far that many assumed it would take years to rebound. In the end, the stock market recovery took just 150 days. Since it bottomed out on March 23 of this year, the broadest marker of the U.S. stock market — the S&P 500 — is up 44 per cent. So, what gives?
It’s always important to remember that the stock market is not the economy. Stocks are meant to reflect the future value of a given company’s stock, not the state of Main Street today. Kavcic said the sharp rise in equities shows how the pandemic has hit different sizes of businesses in different ways. For the most part, the big fish are doing OK, but the little ones are hurting.
“If you look where most of the economic damage was, it was and still is in smaller businesses and Main Street-type businesses that don’t necessarily trade on the equity market,” Kavcic said. “You don’t have a hair salon or a restaurant trading on the Nasdaq.” And yet, he said, digital companies such as Netflix, Cisco and Microsoft have fared incredibly well. And those are the companies driving stock market gains.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data from Canada and around the world.
Black Canadians get sick more from COVID-19. Scientists aim to find out why
Race-based data shows that Black Canadians are far more likely to get sick and be hospitalized for COVID-19 than other ethnic groups. A new study looking at antibodies in the blood of Black Canadians aims to understand the reasons in an effort to reduce the impact of the disease on Black communities.
The study is being led by Dr. Upton Allen, chief of infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He says the data shows that across North America, Black communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, according to data from cities such as Toronto and Ottawa, and organizations such as the Edmonton-based African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and the Innovative Research Group.
In Toronto, for example, data from May 20 to July 16 found that Black patients made up 21 per cent of COVID-19 cases, even though they were only nine per cent of the population. “What is less clear in the Canadian context is why?” Allen said. “We suspect that it has to do with the types of exposures that people have. However, we really need the data to substantiate that.”
Researchers suspect that a number of risk factors might play a role: the work that people in the communities do, including how many are front-line workers and how many work several different jobs at different locations to make ends meet; living conditions, such as crowded, multigenerational homes; and pre-existing medical conditions that can increase risk, such as obesity and diabetes, which are often associated with poverty.
In order to find out if that’s the case, the study will be recruiting 2,000 Black Canadians and 1,000 non-Black Canadians from across the country, including both adults and children over two years old. Participants will answer a questionnaire and do a blood test.
The study aims to show: the extent to which certain communities are protected by “herd immunity”; the biggest risk factors in certain communities; and opportunities for support, such as providing a place for infected people to self-isolate.
Royals facing $60M Cdn hit as pandemic drags tourism numbers down
Queen Elizabeth and her family are facing a 35-million-pound ($60 million Cdn) hit from the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to a shortage of tourists, the monarch’s money manager said Friday.
Releasing the royal household’s annual accounts, Keeper of the Privy Purse Michael Stevens said a lack of income from visitors to royal buildings was likely to bring a general funding shortfall of $25.6 million Cdn over three years. He said the impact of the pandemic is also likely to cause a shortfall in a 10-year program to replace antiquated heating, plumbing and wiring at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London home. Officials have said the palace’s aging infrastructure, which had its last major upgrade after the Second World War, is at risk of a catastrophic failure if it’s not replaced.
Stevens said the royal household would not ask for more government money but would “look to manage the impact through our own efforts and efficiencies.”
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U.S. researchers project Canada could see over 16,000 coronavirus deaths by January – Global News
Researchers whose projections for the spread of the novel coronavirus have proven grimly accurate for the United States say the number of deaths in Canada could surge dramatically late this year, unless measures change.
The latest model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington says Canada could see 16,214 deaths by Jan. 1. That number drops down to 12,053 fatalities if masks are universally worn by people across the country.
At least one expert has expressed doubt on the projections, however, saying they don’t take increased protections for vulnerable populations into account.
Since the coronavirus was first detected in Canada in January, 9,244 Canadians to date have died of complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Dr. Ali Mokdad, a member of the IMHE’s senior management team and a professor of health metrics sciences, says the majority of the projected deaths will likely occur in December.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
“That’s when the weather will get much colder and align with what we see during a pneumonia season,” he said.
“We’re seeing the same pattern over and over between COVID-19 and pneumonia in every country in the southern hemisphere, and now that’s heading in our direction.”
While coronavirus cases have been surging across Canada over the past week, with over 1,000 new cases being reported daily, deaths have stayed relatively flat for months. The country hasn’t reported over 20 daily deaths since July 3, and has seen fewer than 10 nearly every day in September.
But Mokdad says that could change if cases don’t start trending downward. He pointed to the U.S., where deaths began spiking over 1,000 a day roughly a month after cases surged this past summer.
“We saw this in other countries too: when you start opening schools and businesses, who’s more likely to go there? The younger generation,” he said.
“But they don’t live in a bubble. So they’ll start interacting with their parents and grandparents, and that’s when you’ll start to see a spike in mortality.”
According to the IMHE’s modelling, the majority of new deaths in Canada will be seen in Ontario and Quebec, which Mokdad says is based on population size. Ontario could rise from over 2,800 deaths now to 5,773 by Jan. 1 if measures stay the same. Quebec, which has seen more than 5,800 fatalities to date, is projected to jump to 9,825.
The death tolls in British Columbia and Alberta, the other two provinces currently driving up the national case numbers, are projected to remain relatively flat through the winter, according to the modelling.
Coronavirus: Canadians should ‘redouble their efforts’ at preventing COVID-19 spread as national case count rises, Tam says
Stephen Hoption Cann, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia, thinks the IMHE’s model doesn’t reflect protections now in place for vulnerable people like the elderly, which could help limit any new deaths.
“We’re seeing more caution when it comes to long-term care residents, immune compromised people, where we’re limiting their interactions and keeping them protected,” he said.
That, coupled with the lower mortality rate among younger patients, makes Hoption Cann think the fall and winter could be less deadly than anticipated.
“So many people I talk to now who are in that older group, they simply don’t want to take the risk of opening themselves up to more interaction and the like,” he said. “So if that continues, we’ll be in a better place.”
What can bring the numbers down?
The IHME model has been considered a tentpole for data mappers during the pandemic and has been frequently cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It has also largely aligned with projections from the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
After projecting earlier this year that the U.S. would surpass 200,000 deaths in September — which proved to be accurate — the model now estimates there could be up to 371,509 lives lost by Jan. 1.
Modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Tuesday only goes as far as early October, when it predicts Canada’s death toll will reach up to 9,300. However, it does suggest cases could see a major upswing through October into early November if measures aren’t tightened, potentially reaching up to 5,000 new cases daily.
While Hoption Cann says that upswing could lead to a surge in deaths a month later, he again said the majority of deaths projected by the IMHE can be avoided.
“It all depends on what kind of further measures the provinces put in place to tamp down this rise in cases we’re seeing,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll see widespread business closures, but they’ll likely just ask people to kick what they’re already doing into a higher gear.”
Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said this week that the current surge can be countered if people “redouble their efforts with personal precautions.” In his address to the nation Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed that plea and said he’s confident Canadians can “bend the curve” together again.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
Mokdad agreed, saying widespread mask-wearing could help control the spread of COVID-19.
“If 95 per cent of people in Canada wear a mask … you can avoid many of the cases and deaths that we are projecting,” he said.
“We can’t avoid new cases and deaths entirely, because we have schools and businesses open and the weather is getting colder. But masks can make a difference.”
Mokdad, who is watching the Canadian response to the pandemic from the U.S., says he admires the steps Ottawa has taken to help flatten the curve — particularly compared to the conflicting messages coming from Washington, D.C.
“(Canada) went by the book,” he said. “The lockdown early on, the testing, all was by the book. But the most important part that was done right was the cohesive national message given to the public.
“And Canadians have done a better job than Americans at following those messages.”
Coronavirus: CDC director says 90% of U.S. population still at risk for COVID-19
With 20 years of experience working at the CDC before joining the IMHE, he says it’s “frustrating” to watch the institution struggle to deliver a clear message to Americans.
“We have taught other countries how to handle situations like this one,” he said. “So when you’re watching people all over the world dealing with the pandemic, and you know that you taught them how to do it, and they have done what you taught them — why the people here are not doing the same thing here, and not being allowed to in some ways, it’s very frustrating.
“I’m a very optimistic guy. If we get our act together (in the United States), if we are united but not divided and let science dictate policies, then we can do what you guys have done.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario tightens rules on bars and restaurants, closes strip clubs – CBC.ca
Ontario is tightening rules aimed at curbing its recent surge in COVID-19 cases — moving last call at bars and restaurants to 11 p.m., and closing all strip clubs.
Bars and restaurants must close at midnight, except tor takeout and delivery, and businesses must screen anyone who wishes to enter the premises, the province said Friday.
“Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases,” the province said in a news release.
“Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group.”
The orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday. The province said it will work with municipalities to ramp up enforcement.
Premier Doug Ford said Ontario mayors asked for the measures.
“It’s precautionary … it won’t be forever,” Ford said at his Friday news conference.
WATCH | Premier explains Ontario’s new restrictions:
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 for a second straight day on Friday, with about three-quarters of them in the Toronto area. Toronto itself saw 204 new cases, while Peel Region reported 66 and York had 33. Ottawa registered another 40.
Durham and Halton regions were the only other public health units with double-digit increases in newly confirmed infections, with 12 each.
Some Ontario pharmacies on Friday started appointment-only COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people, under certain conditions.
Ford said that next week, up to 18 more pharmacies in southwestern Ontario and Niagara Region will start testing, in places including St. Catharines-Niagara Falls, London, Windsor, Sarnia, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.
The province is also spending millions of dollars to fix backlogs for surgeries and other procedures that were pushed back because of COVID-19, and is building surge capacity in hospitals, Ford said.
“It will help us reduce the surgery backlog, while still ensuring patients will receive the care they need,” he said.
Ontario has seen a total of 48,905 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, about 86.2 per cent are resolved. Another 283 were marked resolved in Frtiday’s report.
There are currently some 3,899 active infections of the coronavirus provincewide, the most since June 8.
Public health units with more than 100 active cases include:
- Toronto: 1,242.
- Peel Region: 764.
- Ottawa: 619.
- York Region: 323.
- Waterloo Region: 146.
- Halton Region: 125.
Further, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases continues its slow but steady climb and now sits at 88. Twenty-five patients are being treated in intensive care, while 13 of those are on ventilators.
Also Friday, the Ontario NDP updated its COVID-19 recovery plan, called “Save Main Street.”
The Official Opposition says the Progressive Conservative government has been slow to dole out billions in federal relief funds in the province. Among other things, the NDP is calling on the government to:
- Ban all evictions, lockouts and threats of eviction by commercial landlords until the pandemic is over.
- Implement a utility payment freeze for small- and medium-sized businesses.
- Offer a monthly, emergency 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy to small- and medium-sized businesses for the length of the pandemic.
- Create a safe reopening and remote-work setup fund for small businesses.
- Institute guaranteed paid sick days for all workers, including those in low-wage and precarious employment.
- Cap school class sizes at 15 students.
- Institute an auto-insurance grace period.
Still have questions about COVID-19? These CBC News stories will help.
Is another lockdown coming in Ontario? What do we know about the Ford government’s fall plan?
What’s the latest on where I should get tested?
What’s the most recent guidance on mask use?
What should I do about my COVID bubble?
Who is getting COVID-19?
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