The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:45 a.m. France’s prime minister is urging his compatriots to wear masks more but insisted Wednesday that rising coronavirus infections across the country are “nothing to panic about” and that it’s time for people to get back to work and school and to “cultivating themselves.”
France is now reporting more than 25 positive virus tests per 100,000 people, up from five per 100,000 a month ago. Neighboring countries are requiring quarantines for visitors from parts or all of France.
There has also been a small but steady uptick in the number of COVID-19 in intensive care, though the situation is far from the crisis levels facing French hospitals in March and April.
“We are not letting down our guard. The virus is still there,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on France-Inter radio Wednesday.
While he acknowledged that wearing a mask all the time is “a little annoying,” Castex urged people protesting mask requirements “to think of others, hospital workers, medical workers, vulnerable people. …It’s not because you feel invincible that you can go contaminate others.”
Despite confirmed virus cases rising, the prime minister insisted that France needs to return to work and school and avoid “falling into an economic and social crisis that would be much more dangerous than the health crisis.”
7:17 a.m. As many as 40 local television outlets and up to 200 Canadian radio stations could be forced to close in the next three years as the pandemic adds to financial pressures media companies were facing before COVID-19, according to a new study from a media advocacy group.
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters issued a report today warning of potential closures and widespread job cuts as TV and radio broadcasters face a cumulative projected revenue shortfall of up to $1.06 billion by the end of 2022.
The report says the most vulnerable are the country’s AM radio stations, as well as other independent private radio and TV operations in smaller markets across the country.
The study, titled “The Crisis in Canadian Media and the Future of Local Broadcasting,” was commissioned by the CAB and conducted by Winnipeg-based independent media economics consultancy Communications Management Inc.
The CAB is calling on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to take swift action by establishing a “more fair and sustainable future” for local media, and the federal government to provide emergency regulatory relief as well as greater support.
The organization says it’s concerned about the fallout from an erosion in advertising revenues, which could leave national and international media to provide Canadians with most of their news.
7:10 a.m. National Bank of Canada’s third-quarter profit topped expectations even as it increased its provisions for bad loans compared with a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bank says it earned $602 million or $1.66 per diluted share for the quarter ended July 31 compared with a profit of $608 million or $1.66 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.
Revenue totalled $2.02 billion, down from $2.04 billion. Provisions for credit losses amounted to $143 million, up from $86 million a year ago.
Excluding specified items, National Bank says it earned $1.66 per diluted share, the same as a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.30 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
“Since the gradual reopening of the economy, many indicators have improved, but the situation remains uncertain, especially given the potential for a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” National Bank chief executive Louis Vachon said in a statement.
“While it’s still too early to predict how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the economy in the long term, the bank is in a strong position with a solid balance sheet, defensive positioning, quality credit portfolios, and a prudent approach to provisioning.”
6:41 a.m. Gaza health officials have reported the first death from COVID-19 since authorities detected community transmission of the coronavirus earlier this week.
A wider outbreak in the blockaded territory, which is home to 2 million Palestinians, could be catastrophic. The health infrastructure has been strained by years of conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.
The Health Ministry says the deceased was a 61-year-old man who had been put on life support and died during his transfer to a special isolation centre.
The ministry said nine new local cases were detected Wednesday, raising the total to 15. Authorities have reported more than 100 cases and a fatality since March, but until this week they were all linked to quarantine centres for returning travellers.
6:16 a.m.: Parents and advocates of students with special needs say Ontario’s back-to-school plan treats them as an afterthought.
Like many parents, Lindsay Ahmed still has so many questions and she’s frustrated with the lack of information. How will physical distancing requirements affect her daughter’s support person? What happens if there’s another shutdown and she is forced to return to online learning, which, if it’s run as it was in the spring, will be mostly inaccessible to her?
6:10 a.m.: Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state on Wednesday recorded one of its deadliest days of the pandemic despite new COVID-19 infections continuing to trend down.
The 24 fatalities in the latest 24-hour period is the largest death toll apart from the all-time daily record of 25 set on Aug. 17.
Victoria’s Health Department reported 149 news cases on Wednesday following 148 infections on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s count brought the weekly average to 175 new cases a day, down from 279 in the previous week.
6:10 a.m.: Hawaii’s most populous island is returning to a stay-at-home order while officials strive to conduct 70,000 COVID-19 tests in two weeks.
Oahu has seen a surge in daily positive cases. The federal government will help officials test 5,000 people daily for two weeks.
During that time, Oahu will be under a stay-at-home order where gyms and dine-in restaurants will be closed. Religious services may continue.
The spike also has included an outbreak at the state’s largest jail. State Sen. Clarence Nishihara is criticizing Gov. David Ige’s administration for failing to widely test inmates swiftly enough.
6:10 a.m.: Mexican officials are expressing concern that the country may have entered a plateau of coronavirus infections after about three weeks of slight declines.
The Health Department said Tuesday there were 4,916 newly confirmed cases, bringing Mexico’s total to 568,621. There were 650 newly confirmed deaths, bring the country’s total to 61,450, the third highest in the world.
The Health Department’s epidemiology director, José Luis Alomía, said “the trend is moving toward what could be a plateau.”
6:08 a.m.: Health officials in South Korea called on thousands of striking doctors to return to work as the country counted its 13th straight day of triple-digit jumps in coronavirus cases.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo cited the growing virus crisis while issuing back-to-work orders for doctors in Seoul area who had joined physicians in other parts of the country for a three-day strike starting Wednesday to protest government plans to boost the number of medical students. Doctors’ groups say such measures would worsen what’s already a cutthroat market.
South Korea’s Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reported 320 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 237 from the densely populated Seoul region, which has been the centre of a viral resurgence in recent weeks. Health workers have struggled to stem transmissions linked to various places and groups, including churches, schools, restaurants and door-to-door salespeople.
6:07 a.m.: India has reported more than 67,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s number of reported infections to 3.2 million with 1.5 million reported infections coming this month alone.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 1,059 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities from the pandemic to 59,449.
India has been recording more than 60,000 new infections per day for the last two weeks, reaching a peak of 69,652 cases on Aug. 19. New reported infections dropped to around 61,000 on Monday and Tuesday, but picked up again in the past 24 hours.
The ministry said India’s recovery rate was now around 76 per cent with a fatality rate of 1.84 per cent.
Even though the country of nearly 1.4 billion people has been slowly opening up to heal the economy, areas identified as most affected by the virus continue to remain under lockdown.
6:06 a.m.: Winter is ending in the Southern Hemisphere and country after country — South Africa, Australia, Argentina — had a surprise: Their steps against COVID-19 also apparently blocked the flu.
But there’s no guarantee the Northern Hemisphere will avoid twin epidemics as its own flu season looms while the coronavirus still rages.
“This could be one of the worst seasons we’ve had from a public health perspective with COVID and flu coming together. But it also could be one of the best flu seasons we’ve had,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press.
U.S. health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu in record numbers this fall, so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with a dueling “twindemic.”
It’s also becoming clear that wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping your distance are protections that are “not specific for COVID. They’re going to work for any respiratory virus,” Redfield said.
5:56 a.m.: A campus coalition at Canada’s largest university is urging the school to listen to its own expert research on COVID-19 and roll back its plan to reopen doors to students and staff in the fall.
In an online panel held earlier this week, the University of Toronto Faculty Association discussed what it described as the administration’s refusal to address health and safety concerns raised by staff and students despite the school’s high-profile health-care advocacy work during the global pandemic.
Association President Terezia Zoric said she disagrees with the administrations decision to hold in-person classes, arguing the move carries unnecessary risks for the entire university community.
“It is a complete lost opportunity for the university’s senior administration not to consult with their own in-house experts who are also being consulted by the World Health Organization and federal provincial governments,” Zoric said.
“They have developed a plan with very little input from the most expert people who work for them. It is beyond disappointing.”
Wednesday 5:55 a.m.: Justin Trudeau will visit a school in Toronto today to announce $2 billion in additional funding to help provinces and territories ensure that kids can safely return to class this fall.
The money is on top of the $19 billion the prime minister has already promised provinces and territories to help them cope with the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies and health-care systems.
He informed premiers of the new funding during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
The funding is expected to be allocated based on each province and territory’s number of students.
Federal officials say provinces and territories, which have sole jurisdiction over education, will have plenty of flexibility in deciding how best to spend the money.
They’ll be able to spend it as they see fit to bolster their efforts to ensure schools can reopen this fall as safely as possible.
Schools have been shut down across the country since COVID-19 started sweeping across the country in mid-March.
6 p.m. Tuesday As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 43,677 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,837 deaths, up another 80 cases in 24 hours, according to the Star’s latest count.
As has been the case in recent days, the vast majority of new cases in the province were reported in the GTA and Ottawa. Among Ontario’s 34 health units, just Toronto, with 25 new infections, Peel Region, with 23, and Ottawa, with 16, reported in the double digits on Tuesday. York Region also added another six to its tally.
None of the other 30 units reported more than a pair of new cases Tuesday.
The seven-day average for daily case reports in Ontario has been rising steadily in recent days, but fell slightly Tuesday to 105 cases a day.
Even with the recent increases, the rate of infection remains well below the worst of the pandemic; Ontario saw the same average reach a mid-April peak of nearly 600 cases daily.
Three new fatal cases were reported Tuesday: Two in Peel Region and one in Toronto.
The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have since recovered; the province lists slightly more than 1,000 active cases of the disease.
The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.
The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”
Leaked document reveals Ontario's plan to avoid another COVID-19 lockdown – CBC.ca
Ontario wants to avoid imposing lockdown-style measures to combat a second wave of COVID-19, but is prepared to take “targeted action” such as closing certain higher-risk businesses, CBC News has learned.
CBC News obtained a copy of Ontario’s fall pandemic preparedness plan, still in draft form even as Premier Doug Ford’s government is in the midst of announcing some of its elements.
The 21-page draft, provided by a government source this week, acknowledges the recent upsurge in new COVID-19 cases, and lays out three possible scenarios of what the second wave could look like: small, moderate or large.
Whichever scenario plays out, the plan favours responding with targeted restrictions, rather than widespread closures or a lockdown.
“If there is a resurgence of COVID-19, either locally or province-wide, targeted action may be taken to adjust or tighten public health measures,” says the document.
“The return to an earlier stage of provincial reopening, or even regional approaches to tightening would be avoided in favour of organization-specific or localized changes.”
CBC News asked Ford’s office on Wednesday evening for comment about the plan. A spokesperson said the document is an early draft, “which has since evolved considerably.
“It should not be considered complete,” said Ford’s director of communications, Travis Kann, in an email. “We look forward to continuing to release the full details of the final plan.”
Ontario is currently seeing a marked upswing in infections, with the daily numbers of new cases hitting levels not seen in four months. There have been on average 386 new confirmed cases reported daily over the past week, while that figure was 337 in the final week of May.
At that time, all regions were still in Stage 1 of the province’s reopening plan, with restaurants and bars shut. Case numbers were on a downward trend.
The draft plan says if cases start rising “a specific workplace or organization could be closed for a period of time or have additional public health measures or restrictions applied, or a certain type of higher-risk business in a local area might be closed until trends in public health indicators improve.”
The plan commits at least $2.2 billion to the pandemic response. The biggest single item is nearly $1.4 billion on a range of public health measures, including increased capacity in testing, labs, contact tracing, and efforts to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Other dollar figures in the plan include:
- $475 million to prepare the health system for a surge in COVID-19 cases.
- $284 million to reduce backlogs in surgeries and other hospital procedures.
- $30 million to identify, manage and prevent outbreaks in schools, long-term care and other settings.
- $28.5 million for the flu immunization campaign announced on Tuesday.
An additional $90 million is labelled “TBC” (to be confirmed) for a wage enhancement for personal support workers in home and community care.
So far, the government has released two elements of the plan: the upcoming flu vaccination campaign and the expansion of COVID-19 testing to some pharmacies. Ford is expected to reveal more on Thursday, but the full plan was not to be rolled out for several more days.
Parts of the plan that have not been revealed include expanding testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day, with the ability to ramp up to 100,000 tests per day as needed. The plan also says the province will adopt new testing technologies, including saliva tests and tests that can be processed at the point of care.
The document sets out some benchmarks for success in the public health response to COVID-19. The province wants the positive test rate running no higher than three per cent. It’s aiming for at least 80 per cent of all test results to be completed within 48 hours.
And it wants 90 per cent of all people who test positive for the virus to be contacted within 24 hours.
There is mixed success with some of these measures right now. The positive test rate province-wide has averaged 1.1 per cent over the past week. The turnaround target for lab tests is currently being met only 68 per cent of the time in Toronto.
The plan does not state any specific benchmarks to trigger tighter pandemic restrictions. The decision would be based on more than just the daily case count, says the document. The number and type of outbreaks, hospitalization data, and the input of local medical officers of health would also be factored in.
Private clinics to help clear surgery backlog
Private medical clinics would be paid to help clear the backlog of thousands of procedures that were postponed during the spring wave of the pandemic as hospitals tried to clear space.
The Ministry of Health will address the backlog in part “through innovative channels such as the use of independent health facilities that can deliver additional publicly funded surgical and diagnostic imaging services,” says the document.
It also promises unspecified funding for additional surgeries to take place during extended hours in hospital operating rooms.
The document says the health system is facing challenges that weren’t present during the initial spring wave of COVID-19.
Overcrowding at hospitals is one of them, as patient volumes are beginning to returning to pre-pandemic levels. Hospitals and long-term care homes now have less space for patients and residents as they have had to reduce the number of multi-bed rooms to ensure physical distancing.
There’s also a shortage of health-care workers, particularly in home and community care, according to the plan.
The draft document says the province will take action on what it calls “health behaviour surveillance” as part of its efforts to slow transmission of COVID-19.
There are no dollar figures attached to this, but the document says the aim is “to track adherence to public health measures across Ontario.”
Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau – Global News
Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge as many parts of the country enter a second wave.
And it’s likely Thanksgiving gatherings will be out of the question as cases spike across the country following the recent lifting of many social restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to their social bubbles, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from other people as the country faces down a looming second wave of the virus that has already claimed 9,238 lives.
In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Wednesday evening, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.
In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.
“The numbers are clear — back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000,” Trudeau said.
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces
“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s — those were already decided by what we did, or didn’t do, two weeks ago,” he continued.
“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again
The televised address pre-empted regularly scheduled programming on all major networks in a rare move that was billed by the Prime Minister’s Office as an opportunity to “address Canadians directly on the urgency of fighting COVID-19 as we face down the prospect of a second wave of the virus.”
But the address — both from Trudeau and from the opposition leaders who also spoke — took on an openly political tone and touting political agenda items in the government’s throne speech.
Trudeau doubled down on a pledge to keep spending even as more than half of Canadians report concern about the size of the federal deficit, currently at $343 billion from emergency spending.
He also pointed to government commitments to build towards a national pharmacare program and highlighting the government’s pledge to go further with climate change action.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took a highly partisan approach in his speech, which was recorded from the driveway of his home where O’Toole and his wife are in isolation after contracting the virus.
“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead,” O’Toole said before criticizing the government.
“We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage,” he continued.
“Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes, and too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided.”
Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation, also recorded an address.
Blanchet spoke in French and stressed his party will not support the government’s throne speech because it does not do enough to support Quebec.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke and said he understands that many Canadians are feeling worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their lives and their futures.
“I know that you’re worried,” he said. “And, I know you’re seeing the numbers rising and you’re worried about a second wave. I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”
Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed
He said the party plans to push the government to make concrete policy changes including creating a national sick leave and making sure those transitioning off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a new model of Employment Insurance can maintain the same level of benefit payment.
Singh has not yet said whether he will support the throne speech.
The Trudeau Liberals need the support of at least one other party to remain in power when they put the throne speech to a vote and both the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have ruled out voting in favour.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “disappointed” by the speech.
“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening.
-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada adds 1,085 new coronavirus cases as Trudeau warns of second wave – Global News
Canada added 1,085 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the fifth day in a row the country has seen a daily increase of more than 1,000.
The new infections bring the country’s total case count to 147,612.
Health authorities also said 10 more people have died after contracting the virus.
Since the pandemic began, the virus has claimed 9,244 lives in Canada.
The new cases come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said some regions in Canada are already experiencing a second wave of the virus.
“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” he said.
Trudeau made the comments during a rare evening address.
He urged Canadians to continue abiding by the public health measures including sticking to social bubbles, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and continuing practicing social distancing.
“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control,” he said.
Woman waits for 7 hours to get coronavirus test at Toronto hospital
The prime minister said it is “likely” Canadians will not be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but said “we still have a shot at Christmas.”
Ontario reported 335 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, and health officials there said three more people had died.
The new infections bring the province’s total caseload to 48,087.
Since the pandemic began Ontario has tested 3,649,980 people for COVID-19, and 41,600 have recovered after falling ill.
In Quebec, 471 new infections were detected, and health officials said one more person had died.
Health authorities said three more deaths which occurred between Sept. 16 and Sept. 21, bring the provincial death toll to 5,809.
However, 59,686 people have recovered from the virus in Quebec, and health officials have conducted 2,136,088 tests to date.
New Brunswick added one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but officials said no one else had died.
The province has seen two deaths related to the virus so far.
A total of 191 people have recovered after contracting the respiratory illness, and 71,585 tests have been administered in New Brunswick.
Nova Scotia health officials said no new cases or deaths associated with COVID-19 had occurred.
So far 1,021 people have recovered after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, and 90,124 people have been tested.
Prince Edward Island saw one new case of COVID-19, marking the province’s first new infection since Sept. 16.
The new case brings Prince Edward Island’s total caseload to 58, however, 57 of those people have recovered.
Provincial health authorities have administered 33,196 tests for the virus.
Coronavirus: Researchers identify the origins of COVID-19 infections in Quebec
No new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Newfoundland on Wednesday, and provincial health authorities said the death toll remained at three.
Newfoundland has not recorded a new case of the virus since Sept. 18.
So far, 268 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 38,960 tests have been conducted.
Forty-two new infections were reported in Manitoba, and health authorities said one more person had died after testing positive for the virus.
To date, 1,238 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 170,045 people have been tested.
Saskatchewan reported six new cases, but health officials said the death toll in the province remained at 24.
Thus far, 176,912 people have been tested for COVID-19 and 1,673 have recovered after becoming ill.
Alberta recorded 143 new infections, bringing the province’s total case count to 17,032.
Health officials there said two more people had died, pushing Alberta’s death toll to 260.
However, since the pandemic began, 15,252 people have recovered from the virus.
A total of 1,242,263 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta.
Further west in British Columbia, 86 new infections were reported, but no new deaths have occurred.
Health authorities also reported five epidemiologically-linked, meaning they have not been confirmed by a laboratory.
So far, 6,769 people who contracted COVID-19 have recovered in B.C., and 483,979 tests have been administered.
No new cases in the territories
None of Canada’s territories reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and health officials confirmed no one else had died.
In the Northwest Territories, all five confirmed cases of the virus are considered resolved.
The territory has administered 1,673 tests for COVID-19.
Throne speech: Payette touts coronavirus job creation, wage subsidy extension
Meanwhile, Nunavut has seen three cases of the virus to date, however, each have been tied to workers from other parts of the country.
The territory says the infections will be counted in the totals for the workers’ home jurisdictions, meaning Nunavut still considers itself free of COVID-19 cases.
The territory has tested 2,812 for the virus to date.
All 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the Yukon are considered to be recovered.
Since the pandemic began, health officials have administered 59,686 tests.
Global cases approach 32 million
As of 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the virus had claimed 973,904 lives worldwide.
The United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Wednesday, with over 6.9 million confirmed cases.
So far 201,861 Americans have died after contracting COVID-19.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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