Eligible Canadians who lost income because of COVID-19 could start applying Monday for a new emergency benefit program as the government tries to keep people afloat during a pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives worldwide and prompted a frantic scramble to secure critical supplies.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, said in a statement that delays in global shipments and restrictions at the U.S. border have “severely strained Ontario’s inventory” and left Canada’s most populous province with “roughly a one-week supply” of critical personal protective equipment (PPE).
He told reporters Monday that Ontario has a current order for about four million masks from the U.S. and that only half a million have been released.
“We know the U.S. isn’t allowing supplies across the border,” Ford said. “Getting supplies from other countries is increasingly difficult.”
WATCH | Ford talks about tight supplies in Ontario:
Speaking outside Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is in constant contact with the provinces about PPE and other important supplies. The government is also in talks with the U.S., he said, and has reiterated that critical supplies flow both ways across the border.
Monday evening, 3M, the company at the centre of the dispute between the U.S. and Canada, released a statement saying it had struck a deal with the Trump administration that would allow it to continue to supply N95 masks to other countries, including Canada.
“As the pandemic unfolds in different stages around the world,” the company said in a statement, “3M will continue to work with governments to direct respirators and other supplies to serve areas most in need.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called the flow of medical-related supplies across the border “very” reciprocal, adding that members of the government had “positive” conversations with U.S. counterparts over the weekend.
“Both countries benefit from this and both countries would lose out if hurdles were to be put in the way of that flow of health-care support between our two countries,” she said Monday.
CBC News reported Monday that Ontario hospitals have received more than 600 extra ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients.
During his daily news conference, Trudeau spoke at length about the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), which opened to applications early Monday morning to people born in January, February and March. The system, run through the Canada Revenue Agency, staggers the application window for people born in later months as the week goes on. The employment minister’s office said by late Monday afternoon, 642,000 applications had been submitted for the benefit.
WATCH | Trudeau says more Canadians will be able to access emergency benefits:
The emergency funding program, which offers eligible applicants $2,000 a month for a period of up to four months, is just one of the measures the Canadian government has launched to try and buoy families and businesses feeling the fallout from the virus, which has to date resulted in nearly 1.3 million reported cases around the world.
Trudeau said his government knows not everyone is getting the help they need through CERB and other programs. He said in the days ahead, the government will announce additional measures aimed at helping gig workers, contract workers, and workers who are getting 10 or fewer hours per week. What those measures would be and how they would work was not immediately clear.
The prime minister also talked about measures to help post-secondary students who can’t find summer jobs and workers who are still on the job but earning less than they would if they were on the CERB. There were no details on those programs, either.
“There are some people who don’t yet qualify who we need to help,” PM says. He says people working less than 10 hours a week will soon qualify for CERB. Or people who are working but are making less than the benefit – the gov’t will help them too.
The prime minister thanked people performing critical services in the health care, trucking and food sectors, but urged people who don’t need to be out to stay home.
“What the next weeks and months look like depends on you,” Trudeau said, urging people to take actions to protect the vulnerable and keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed.
Earlier Monday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he couldn’t agree more with the government’s decision to move forward with a “Team Canada” approach to the outbreak — and said Conservatives have been part of that approach since “Day 1” of the crisis.
Scheer focused his remarks on the charitable sector, saying that while need is soaring, donations have “dramatically declined.” He said Conservatives want the government to temporarily increase the tax credit for charitable giving in 2020, and remove the capital gains tax on charitable donations of private company shares and real estate. He also called on the government to release its coronavirus projections and modelling, as well as further details around how it plans to meet needs for critical medical equipment.
According to a database maintained by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, nearly 73,000 people have died as a result of the virus, which was first reported in China’s Hubei province in late 2019. The United States reached a grim milestone today, surpassing 10,000 deaths. The true number of COVID-19 cases is certainly much higher due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.
At least 16,667 of the cases are confirmed in Canada, with cases recorded in every province and territory except Nunavut. As of 8:00 p.m. ET on Monday, CBC News has counted a total of 359 deaths in Canada related to COVID-19. The provinces and territories which offer information on people who have recovered listed 3,629 cases as resolved.
Public health officials have cautioned that the numbers, which don’t include the deaths of two Canadians abroad, don’t provide a full picture of the outbreak, as they fail to capture cases that haven’t been tested or are still under investigation.
The vast majority of infected people recover from the virus, formally known as SARS CoV-2, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes.
Chief public health officer weighs in on masks
The role masks can play to slow the spread of the disease has been contentious, with some countries requiring people to wear masks when out in public. The U.S. recently announced guidelines recommending people cover their faces while in public, though the president noted he wouldn’t be following the recommendation.
Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Monday said masks can be used to protect others when out in public, though she noted that they have not been proven to protect the person wearing the mask from infection.
Tam — who had in the past said masks aren’t necessary for people without symptoms — said the change from previous advice is due to increasing evidence that people with the virus can spread it without knowing they’re sick.
“Now that more countries have had larger numbers of cases and have analyzed transmission patterns, it is clear that transmission of the virus is happening more often than previously recognized from infected people right before they develop symptoms.”
On top of that pre-symptomatic transmission, there is also evidence that some people who never show symptoms are able to transmit the virus. Given the “emerging information” around asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, Tam said the special advisory committee on COVID-19 had come to a consensus that “wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms, is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.”
WATCH | Dr. Tam’s updated advice about wearing non-medical masks:
Tam reiterated that medical masks are needed for front-line health workers as the country is in a “critical stage” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia and death.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says risk varies between communities but notes that the illness poses a serious health threat to Canadians and pegs the risk level as high.
Via Rail extends service suspensions
Via Rail is extending the suspension of its passenger rail service from Toronto to British Columbia.
In a note on the company’s website, Via says its route between Toronto and Vancouver, and its run from Prince Rupert on B.C.’s north coast through Prince George to Jasper are suspended until June 1.
The cancellations include the planned westbound train due to leave Toronto on May 31 and the eastbound service leaving Vancouver on June 1, as well as all the stops in between.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, the top public health official is warning people not to let up on physical distancing. “This is our time to remain unwavering in our commitment. To keep our firewall strong,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said over the weekend. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he is planning to address the province in a televised address Tuesday night. The province reported one new COVID-19 death and 98 new cases on Monday. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, including the story of one woman who brought her elderly mother home amid concern about potential outbreaks in seniors’ homes.
Saskatchewan recorded four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing its total to 253. Premier Scott Moe has said that his government will provide more information this week on both provincial modelling and how the province is preparing for an expected increase in cases. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba’s largest city has closed an underground concourse and downtown skywalk as part of the ongoing effort to stamp out COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, including an initiative to house some homeless people who are considered at risk of contracting COVID-19 at a Brandon motel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a remote Ontario First Nation. The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority says a positive case has surfaced in Eabametoong First Nation, about 300 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. The health authority says the arrival of the virus will put a strain on a social and health-care system poorly equipped to handle the added stress. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
WATCH | Dr. Isaac Bogoch wades into the ongoing debate over the use of protective masks, and explains why Ontario has to do much better on coronavirus testing:
Quebec Premier François Legault sounded a cautiously optimistic note Monday, saying the small increase in the number of patients hospitalized — just eight more than on Sunday — is encouraging news that could suggest there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick has implemented a pandemic task force. Health Minister Hugh Flemming says the task force has a military-like command structure that will allow for a faster response to the pandemic. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia, which reported an additional 31 cases on Monday, is going to step up testing in areas with “clusters” of COVID-19 cases. The province’s health authority has also created a mobile assessment centre staffed by paramedics that can move from one area to another. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Prince Edward Island students began virtual learning Monday. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., which has reported 22 COVID-19 cases to date.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the project that launched the province’s offshore industry raised a red flag. Hibernia Management and Development Company said Monday production operations would continue, but that the company was “looking to reduce spending as a result of market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Meantime, chief medical officer of health Janice Fitzgerald announced nine new COVID-19 cases on Monday, for a total of 226. Read more about what’s happening in N.L..
In the Northwest Territories, health officials have confirmed a fifth case of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North, including a Yukon government program that is providing vulnerable women with cellphones.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 2 p.m. ET
The U.S. death toll officially surpassed 10,000 on Monday, the third most in the world, according to an ongoing Johns Hopkins tally. That milestone comes after a day of conflicting signs in the country’s battle against the novel coronavirus, and debate on what to do next.
In what seemed to be good news, New York — the hardest-hit state — on Monday saw a death toll that was “effectively flat” for the second day in a row. At a news conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed cautious optimism in the daily increase of new hospitalizations (358) and new admissions into intensive care (128).
At the same time, physician and member of the White House coronavirus task force Brett Giroir said that Americans can expect this week to be “peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and, unfortunately, peak death week.”
Central to that concern is a death rate in the United States that is currently roughly twice that of Spain and Italy, as well as hospitals reporting chaotic shortages of beds, ventilators and protective gear.
A Monday report from the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicates three out of four U.S. hospitals surveyed are already treating patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The report also says that hospitals expect to be overwhelmed as cases rocket toward their projected peak.
Rural hospitals could be particularly vulnerable because of a limited number of beds and smaller staff, though New York CIty still accounts for almost a third of U.S. coronavirus deaths.
Many hospitals are responding by improvising their own solutions. Some explored buying face masks from nail salons due to the shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Others have been trying to make their own hand sanitizer by blending ultrasound gel with alcohol from local distilleries.
WATCH | New York braces for expected surge of coronavirus this week:
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the virus probably won’t be wiped out entirely this year, and that unless the world gets it under control, it will “assume a seasonal nature.”
“We need to be prepared that, since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why we’re pushing so hard in getting our preparedness much better than it was.”
The total number of people infected in the U.S. is now over 347,000, while more than 90 per cent of U.S. residents are under some kind of stay-at-home order.
American pop star Lady Gaga announced on Monday that a group of philanthropists had raised $35 million US to help battle the rising number of cases worldwide. The money will go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and will help increase access to personal protective equipment, bolster lab capacity for coronavirus tests and support research development
Here’s what’s happening in hard-hit Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 4 p.m. ET
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to the ICU Monday after being admitted over the weekend with persistent symptoms of the new coronavirus. A statement from 10 Downing Street said, “Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital. The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.”
Italy reported its lowest daily death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday, as the health minister outlined plans for broader testing and beefed-up health services as part of measures following a future easing of the lockdown.
Coronavirus-related fatalities and recorded infections continued to drop on Monday in Spain, although authorities warned of possible distortions by a slower reporting of figures over the weekend.
The country’s health ministry reported 637 new deaths for the previous 24 hours, the lowest fatality toll in 13 days, for a total of over 13,000 since the pandemic hit the country. New recorded infections were also the lowest in two weeks: 4,273, bringing the total of confirmed cases over 135,000. Hospitals are also reporting that the pace of incoming patients to their emergency wards is slowing down, giving a much needed respite to overburdened medical workers.
France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the increase in fatalities — now at almost 9,000 — sped up again after several days of slowing, while the increase in people needing intensive care continued to slow. The total number of cases, combining hospital and nursing home statistics, increased by 5,171 over the last 24 hours to 98,010, meaning France will likely become the fifth country, after Italy, Spain, the United States and Germany, to cross the 100,000 threshold on Tuesday.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that it’s not yet time to talk about a date to ease restrictions, saying health will always be the most important consideration. Merkel said the goal is to not overwhelm the health-care system, a message leaders in all corners of the world have been sending to residents as they stress the importance of measures like physical distancing and proper hand hygiene.
WATCH | Sweden isn’t locked down because of COVID-19, but experts say it should be:
The Dutch public health institute says the country’s coronavirus death toll saw the lowest daily increase in a week. The number of deaths rose by 101 to 1,867. The institute said the number of people who have tested positive for the virus rose by 952 to 18,803. That is also a smaller rise than the increase of 1,224 reported on Sunday.
Denmark plans to ease lockdown restrictions next week, reopening schools and day-cares closed since March 11, the country’s prime minister said on Monday. The Nordic country was one of the first in Europe to shut down services, though it has seen the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths stabilize over the past week.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also says his government aims to start allowing some shops to reopen next week at the beginning of a long, phased return to normal life. Kurz said that the aim is to allow small shops and garden centres to reopen next Tuesday, with a limited number of customers who must wear masks. He said the government hopes to reopen the rest of the shops, as well as hairdressing salons, on May 1. Restaurants and hotels won’t be able to open until at least mid-May. Events will remain banned until the end of June.
The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has topped 6,000 after the largest daily spike in new infections since the start of the outbreak.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit China, South Korea, Japan and other areas of concern
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9 a.m. ET
China on Monday reported 39 new cases of coronavirus infection — 38 of them imported — one additional death, 10 suspected cases and 1,047 asymptomatic cases under observation.There were no new confirmed or suspected cases in the epicentre city of Wuhan, where a 14-week lockdown is due to be lifted on Wednesday. China has now recorded a total of 81,708 cases and 3,331 deaths.
South Korea has reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus and three more fatalities, bringing its totals to 10,284 infections and 186 deaths. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said at least 769 of the infections were linked to passengers arriving from overseas, with most of the cases detected in the past three weeks in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.
The country’s caseload has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, but officials have raised concern over a steady rise in infections imported from overseas or occurring in hospitals, nursing homes and other live-in facilities.
Japan will declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday, media reported, as a shortage of beds and a rise in cases linked to hospitals are pushing Tokyo’s medical system to the brink of collapse. The U.S. forces, meanwhile, declared a public health emergency for its military bases in eastern Japan.
Singapore has placed nearly 20,000 foreign workers under quarantine in their dormitories after an increasing number in the community were found to be infected with COVID-19.
Indonesia announced its biggest daily increase in novel coronavirus cases on Monday and a medical association said 24 doctors have now died after contracting the virus. The rise in the death toll among doctors, which has doubled since last week, followed criticism of a lack of protective equipment in Indonesia. The 218 new coronavirus cases took the number overall in Indonesia to 2,491. The 209 confirmed deaths among people who have contracted the virus is the highest number of fatalities in Asia outside China.
India is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as its cases topped 3,350 despite a three-week nationwide lockdown.
Pakistan opened its first drive-thru COVID-19 test facility in the southern Sindh provincial capital of Karachi. A team of doctors and medical staff are operating the first drive-through facility in Pakistan’s latest attempt to stem the spread of the virus. Pakistan has carried out 35,875 tests countrywide and has reported 3,277 positive cases.
Iran on Monday reported that it has more than 60,500 known cases, with more than 3,700 deaths.
Malaysia on Monday reported 131 new coronavirus infections, raising the country’s total to 3,793 cases, the highest in Southeast Asia. The Health Ministry has recorded 62 deaths, including one more reported as of noon Monday.
Currently able to conduct 5,000 tests per day, South Africa will increase its capacity to more than 30,000 per day by the end of the April, according to the National Health Laboratory Service. South Africa was one of only two countries in Africa that could test for the novel coronavirus when it began its global spread in January. Now at least 43 of the continent’s 54 countries can, but many have limited capacity.
Kenya’s president ordered a halt to all movement in parts of the country affected by the coronavirus, including Nairobi. “The cessation of movement within the Nairobi metropolitan area shall be for an initial containment period of 21 days with effect from 7 p.m. Monday the 6th of April 2020, that is today,” Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address. Kenya has reported 158 coronavirus cases and six deaths.
Haiti on Sunday reported its first death, with 21 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease.
Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved a constitutional amendment for a “war budget” to separate coronavirus-related spending from the government’s main budget and shield the economy as the country surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases.