Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday

The latest: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has addressed concerns about the urgent need for medical protective equipment to help curb the spread of COVID-19, saying a large shipment of masks will be headed to Canada soon.

“In the next 48 hours, we will be receiving a shipment of millions of masks by a chartered cargo flight. We’re also working with provinces to transport their medical supplies when possible,” Trudeau said Saturday at his daily media briefing just outside his Rideau Cottage residence in Ottawa. 

“Our government has also leased a warehouse in China to help collect and distribute these items as quickly as possible.”

With just over 12,950 cases of COVID-19 reported across Canada on Saturday, including 244 deaths, the prime minister faced questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s order issued on Friday, telling Minnesota-based 3M to stop supplying N95 respirator masks to Canada and Latin America. Trump said he wants the masks reserved strictly for U.S. health-care workers.

Trudeau said the federal government has been “very clearly” communicating to the Trump administration that it is critical not to disrupt the two-way flow of essential goods and services — and on Saturday he said he would be speaking with Trump again “in the coming days.” Canadian officials, he said, have been talking to people at “all levels” of the Trump administration to ensure essential medical equipment can move freely. 

WATCH | Why N95 masks are so important:

The Trump administration is telling one of the world’s leading manufacturers of N95 masks that it should stop exporting masks to Canada and Latin America. 2:43

On Friday, Ontario released its provincial projection and modelling information related to the pandemic, with Premier Doug Ford saying that he wants the province’s residents to know “what I know.”

The modelling projects the coronavirus crisis could last 18 months to two years and kill 3,000 to 15,000 people, even with public health measures in place.

“Had we done nothing, Ontario may have suffered 100,000 deaths,” said Public Health Ontario CEO Peter Donnelly, referencing the province’s physical distancing and other measures.

Trudeau said officials at the federal level are “working on getting the rest of the provinces’ scenarios” … “to be able to prepare proper projections” on a nationwide basis, and that he expects more modelling and predictions to be released in the coming days.

WATCH | Paramedic describes front-line fight against COVID-19:

Iggy Chan says coronavirus has made his job more dangerous because he is fighting an ‘invisible’ enemy. 4:41

Three of Atlantic Canada’s four provinces say they will attempt to provide COVID-19 modelling projections sometime next week. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. all say they will provide numbers, although Newfoundland and Labrador says it doesn’t have sufficient data to do so.

Global cases of the novel coronavirus have shot past one million with more than 54,000 fatalities, a Reuters tally showed on Friday.

The pandemic has also brought the global economy to a standstill and plunged the world into a recession that will be “way worse” than the global financial crisis a decade ago, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.

Global stock markets sank on Friday following another sign the pandemic would take a huge toll on economic growth. The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth, while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will work on another relief bill, with health care topping the list of priorities.

At his daily briefing on the pandemic, Trudeau will likely also face more questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s request that Minnesota-based 3M stop supplying N95 respirator masks to Canada and Latin America. Trump wants the masks, which are critical to protect frontline health-care workers, reserved strictly for American use.

Trudeau said the federal government was making the point “very clearly” to the Trump administration that it is critical not to disrupt the two-way flow of essential goods and services — including Canadian health care professionals who work in American hospitals — that cross the border every day.

WATCH | What the COVID-19 pandemic looks like across Canada:

A look at how different provinces are handling the COVID-19 pandemic and how the numbers vary. 4:46

Trudeau also said Friday that the Canadian Armed Forces will assist in northern Quebec to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in isolated communities, at the provincial government’s request. 

The Rangers, which are part of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve and provide a Canadian Armed Forces presence in northern and isolated communities, will help set up tents and other medical equipment, as required by the communities.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. T

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the situation is evolving daily but that the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

Canada has more than 13,800 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 244 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 2,703 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil. 

Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case. 

In British Columbia, the Vancouver Park Board is deploying more than two dozen of its staff to patrol city parks and beaches, making people aware of physical distancing and public etiquette around sharing outdoor space. The board said in a release that the workers will help park rangers who have issued more than 1,400 warnings for people to adhere to the two-metre distance rule.Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

BC Ferries says service reductions will go into effect beginning Saturday on major ferry routes for 60 days, including the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route between West Vancouver and Nanaimo, B.C.

Health-care workers are seeb in a drive-thru tent at the Burnaby, B.C., COVID-19 primary care site. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

In Alberta, the majority of the province’s 18 recorded deaths are in continuing care homes and there are now outbreaks in nine facilities. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said it’s a worrisome trend and that part of the problem is staff can work at more than one facility. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

In Saskatchewan, the head of the province’s nurses union says health officials are looking at “new and creative ways” for medical workers to use face masks. Tracy Zambory says the Saskatchewan Health Authority will have to first conduct trials to make sure the practice is safe in hospitals where PPE (personal protective equipment) is already being rationed. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, and the story of a Saskatchewan man living in New York who has helped get N95 masks into the hands of health-care professionals in that city.

Manitoba identified 12 new cases. Meanwhile, unions representing Health Sciences Centre workers say at least 70 staff members — including doctors, nurses, clerks and security guards  — are self-isolating after COVID-19 exposures. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

(CBC)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says only essential workers should leave home unless it’s for getting groceries or other absolutely necessary reasons. To drive home the message, the province sent out another emergency alert on Saturday.

In Toronto, people who violate a new physical distancing city bylaw could be fined up to $1,000 — although education is the “preferred method of enforcement,” said Meaghan Gray, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service. There will be 160 police officers on the lookout, she said. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

In Quebec, 14 more people haved died. The province has 6,997 cases and there are 478 people in hospital, including 130 in intensive care, Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec, and get the details of planned pay hikes for health-care workers.

Police cadets keep an eye on social distancing in Lafontaine Park in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

New Brunswick is confirming three new cases. Officials say most of the cases are related to travel or close contacts with confirmed cases, but four cases are from community transmission and six cases remain under investigation.

Meanwhile, the province is worried about a potential shortage of COVID-19 test suppliesPremier Blaine Higgs told CBC’s Power & Politics if the province “ramped up a bit we could be within like a week of running out of test supplies.” Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia is reporting 29 new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say most cases in Nova Scotia have been linked to travel or a known case, but there is clear evidence that infections are now being spread within the community.

As a result, the province is ramping up its testing. Processing at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax will now move to a 24-7 operation as of Monday. Four individuals are currently in hospital and 50 others have now recovered. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island on Saturday said it has recorded no new cases compared with the previous day. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said the island’s confirmed number of cases remains at 22. Additionally, P.E.I. received 169 negative test results and a total of six people have recovered from the virus. Morrison is urging Islanders not to become complacent and to continue staying home in order to prevent community transmission. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced eight new cases. The majority of the province’s now-more-than 200 cases are connected to a single funeral home. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Northwest Territories health officials and the premier are doubling down on a government policy to not identify small communities with cases of COVID-19. “Knowing what community COVID-19 is in will not make you safer,” said Premier Caroline Cochrane. “What will make you safer is respecting the orders of the chief public health officer.” Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

New York has another 630 deaths Saturday morning, bringing the state’s total to 3,565, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.

“By the numbers we’re not at the apex,” he said. “We’re getting closer.”

The state is poised to get over 1,100 ventilators from China and Oregon as it scrambles to line up more breathing machines for the sickest coronavirus patients.

Emergency medical technicians transport a patient to Elmhurst Hospital Center emergency room New York City on Saturday. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Cuomo said Saturday that the Chinese government and billionaires Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai facilitated a gift of 1,000 ventilators that were due to arrive Saturday. Ma and Tsai are co-founders of the online marketplace Alibaba. Cuomo says the state of Oregon volunteered to send 140 more breathing machines

Governors across the U.S. have been desperately pleading for more supplies — particularly ventilators — and shopping global markets as they try to keep their states safe, as the Trump administration has limited access to a federal stockpile that’s dwindling fast.

Cuomo had said that his state’s stockpile of ventilators would be exhausted in six days if the number of critically ill coronavirus patients kept growing at the current rate.

People wearing masks line up line at Bread Alone outdoor market while maintaining social distancing requirements New York City on Saturday. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

Cuomo also said he will sign an executive order to allow medical students who were about to graduate to begin practising. “We need doctors,” he said.

As of Saturday, more than 15,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in New York, and more than 4,100 were in intensive care. Cuomo said Saturday that New York at one point made purchase orders for 17,000 of the breathing machines, but only 2,500 came through.

Some states and cities that have been shipped masks, gloves, ventilators and other essential equipment from the nation’s medical stockpile to fight the coronavirus have gotten an unwelcome surprise: the material is unusable. Nearly 6,000 medical masks sent to Alabama had dry rot and a 2010 expiration date.

EMT workers sanitize their shoes before they go out on calls in Bethesda, a suburb of Washington D.C., on Saturday. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

More than 150 ventilators sent to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired. In Oregon, it was masks with faulty elastic that could cause the straps to snap, exposing medical workers to the disease.

The number of crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier who have tested positive for the coronavirus has risen 13 per cent in the past 24 hours to 155,  the Navy said on Saturday, in the wake of the firing of the carrier’s captain.

The Navy said 44 per cent  of the carrier’s nearly 5,000-strong crew had been tested and 1,548 sailors from the crew have moved ashore. None of the infected sailors have been hospitalized, it said in a statement.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit Italy, Spain and parts of Europe

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Spain saw its coronavirus cases rise to 124,736 on Saturday, up from 117,710 the previous day, the Spanish health ministry reported. The country’s virus-related death toll rose to 11,744, a jump from 10,935 on Friday.

Spain’s health workers have been contracting the COVID-19 virus at a faster rate than any other country, with around 15 per cent of its cases being doctors, nurses and other medical staff. It’s believed the workers have been exposed to contagion due to a shortage of medical supplies.

In a televised address to the nation, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he would ask parliament to extend lockdown measures until April 26. 

“We are at the start of the decrease in the epidemic. We are  stronger than we think but we have to endure. With sacrifice, resistance and the spirit of victory,” he said, adding that some economic restrictions would be lifted after Easter.

People wearing face masks line up to buy supplies from a shop in Barcelona on Saturday. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

In Italy, more than 11,000 medical personnel have been infected — just under 10 per cent of the official total — and some 73 doctors have died, according to the National Institutes of Health and the association of doctors, which has kept a running tally of the dead.

The head of Germany’s disease control agency says the number of people who die of COVID-19 is likely being undercounted. Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute said Friday that he believes “we have more dead than are officially being reported.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wieler was suggesting that deaths are being undercounted only in Germany, or worldwide, and reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions during his online news conference. Germany’s low death rate from coronavirus has drawn international attention. Experts say the difference compared to other countries is partly due to mass testing and well-equipped hospitals, but they caution that the number of deaths is likely to rise.

A patient from France who is seriously ill with the coronavirus is transported from an ambulance plane after landing at Dresden International Airport in Dresden, Germany, on Saturday. (Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

In the U.K., Carrie Symonds, the pregnant fiancé of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said she had spent the past week in bed with symptoms of the novel coronavirus but after seven days of rest felt stronger and was on the mend.

British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said his thoughts went out to the family of a five-year-old child who died in hospital after being infected.

The number of fatalities in the U.K. is expected to remain high for at least  another week or two even if people comply with stringent isolation measures, health authorities said on Saturday as the country’s death toll jumped to 4,313.

That number includes five London bus workers — three were drivers and two were controllers. Bus ridership has plummeted by more than 75 per cent but the drivers who died may have been infected before the lockdown.

Imperial College London epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told the BBC that if the number of cases began to fall soon, the country will likely move toward relying more on testing and becoming “somewhat more relaxed in terms of social distancing.” 

As of Saturday morning, 183,190 people have been tested, of which 41,903 have tested positive, the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care tweeted. As of Friday evening, of those hospitalized in the U.K. for COVID-19, 4,313 have died.

Britain is temporarily releasing about 4,000 inmates to ease crowding and try to slow the spread of the new virus in prisons. The Ministry of Justice says “low-risk” offenders will be freed with electronic tags. People guilty of violent or sexual offences or terrorism will not be eligible for release.

A health-care worker is seen at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre in London on Saturday. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

In Portugal, confirmed coronavirus cases rose past the 10,000 mark on Saturday, with 266 deaths, as Health Minister Marta Temido urged citizens to step up their fight against the outbreak as there was still “no light at the end of the tunnel.”

“This fight is not a 100-metre race, it is a long marathon,” Temido told reporters.

Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive, the country’s first such facility hit since the outbreak. Police in Greece say they have issued 17,358 fines for people breaking the new restrictions on leaving home since a lockdown began on March 23.

France’s death count now sits at 7,560 since March 1. Authorities are now including victims in homes for the aged.  The country’s total number of confirmed cases in hospitals rose to 68,605 from 64,338 on Friday.

A jogger is seen on an empty street along the Seine river during a nationwide lockdown in Paris on Saturday. (Christophe Ena/Associated Press)

The Netherlands is not in a full lockdown, but bars, restaurants, museums, schools and universities are closed and the government is urging people to stay home and practise social distancing.  Amsterdam is banning boats from its central canals beginning Sunday as authorities fear warm spring weather will lead to overcrowding on the famed waterways. The country’s public health institute on Friday reported 148 new deaths in the outbreak, bringing the Dutch death toll to 1,487.

Sweden’s strategy for fighting COVID-19 differs from most European countries, appearing comparatively more relaxed. Stockholm was quiet but far from deserted on Saturday as Swedes sought to make the most of the sunshine. Swedish authorities have advised the public to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants are still open, and only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. So far, some 373 people have died from COVID-19 in Sweden and there are almost 6,500 cases.

WATCH | Sweden’s approach to COVID-19 pandemic involves no lockdown:

As many countries around the world lock down to deal with COVID-19, Sweden has not taken lockdown measures. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees remain open, as do primary schools and daycares. 4:48

Here’s a look at China, South Korea and some other areas of concern around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

Throughout much of China, people observed a three-minute moment of reflection on Saturday to honour those who died of COVID-19. Air raid sirens wailed and flags were at half-mast. The pandemic was first detected in Wuhan in December.

The city was placed under complete lockdown on Jan. 23 in an effort to stem the spread of the virus and has been lauded as a “heroic city” by the nation’s communist leadership for the sacrifices made by its 11 million citizens.

People have gradually been allowed to travel in and out of Wuhan under strict conditions. The quarantine in the city is to be formally lifted on Wednesday.

China recorded a total of 81,639 cases and 3,326 deaths, although those figures are generally considered to be
understated because of a lack of testing and a reluctance to report the scale of the original outbreak.

A person holds a floral bouquet as people gather outside of a park where an official memorial was held for victims of coronavirus in Wuhan on Saturday. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

Thailand will temporarily ban all passenger flights from landing in the country to curb the outbreak of the virus, starting Saturday. The measure is set to continue until the end of Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in an order published late on Friday.

South Korea has extended government guidelines urging people to practise physical distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus for two weeks as infections continue to grow in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun says rising infections are linked to recent arrivals amid broadening outbreaks in Europe and the U.S.

Officials have since tested 138 of her contacts, including colleagues and guests at the downtown Somerset Palace hotel, and confirmed the infection of an American actor on Thursday. Na said officials were still awaiting test results for 48 people while the other 89 tested negative. He said the hotel was ordered to prevent guests from leaving the property and stop taking new customers.

South Korea earlier on Friday reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 10,062.

Applicants taking a written examination are seen seated far apart from each other at the Wa stadium in Ansan, South Korea, on Saturday. (Hong Ki-won/Yonhap via AP)

Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month as it moves to curb the increase of COVID-19 transmissions in the country. Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed from next Tuesday, and schools will be closed from Wednesday. Essential services such as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banking services will remain open.

“Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee urged residents to stay home and only leave to buy essential items.

The country has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and has routinely reported more than 50 new cases daily. As of Thursday, Singapore had 1,049 cases and five deaths. Singapore has also reversed its recommendations that people should wear masks only if they are feeling unwell.

“We will no longer discourage people from masks. Wearing a mask may help to protect others in case you have the virus but don’t know it,” said Lee, adding that the government will distribute reusable masks to all households as of Sunday.





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