- WHO emergency expert says lockdown not enough to defeat virus.
- Italy reports 800 COVID-19 deaths in one day.
- Canada has 1,331 cases, with 19 deaths and 16 recovered cases.
- Border no longer open for routine, casual traffic between Canada and U.S.
- Flight bringing Canadians home from Morocco lands in Montreal.
- Global athletes group calls for postponement of Olympics.
- Impact on health-care system ‘could be total collapse,’ warns ICU doctor
Countries will have to go beyond locking down their societies to defeat coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said on Sunday, adding that there need to be public health measures to avoid a resurgence of the virus later on.
“What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,” Mike Ryan said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“The danger right now with the lockdowns … if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.”
Worldwide, more than 307,000 people have now contracted the novel coronavirus and at least 12,944 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. For most, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But it can cause more severe illness in others, especially older adults and people with existing health conditions. Some 92,000 people have recovered, mostly in China, where the virus first struck late last year.
Italy on Sunday reported nearly 800 deaths in one day. The country has more than 50,000 cases and 4,825 deaths.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people not to mark Mother’s Day with home visits to elderly parents. The government says Britain will be facing a crisis on the scale of Italy’s in two weeks if people do not heed instructions to stay home and avoid contact with others.
WATCH | A Canadian doctor urges a mandatory lockdown from coast to coast:
Nova Scotia imposed strict new measures to stop the spread of the outbreak Sunday, declaring a state of emergency and limiting gatherings to no more than five people. Apart from those deemed essential workers, all those entering the province from other provinces — not just outside the country — must observe a 14-day self-isolation period.
Police are now authorized to enforce the Health Protection Act, including issuing fines of $1,000 per day for individuals, and $7,500 per day for businesses.
A worldwide group representing Olympic athletic hopefuls is calling on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
“As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, the IOC … must do the same,” Global Athlete said in a news release Sunday. The Games are scheduled to run from July 24 to Aug. 9. The IOC is in consultation with the World Health Organization and has stuck to the position that it’s too early for drastic decisions.
Athletes want to be “part of a solution to ensure the Games are a success,” the Global Athlete statement said. “But under the current global restrictions that are limiting public gatherings as well as closing training facilities and borders, athletes do not have the ability to appropriately prepare for these Games, and their health and safety must come first.”
IOC President Thomas Bach has insisted the Games will go ahead as planned, telling Germany’s SWR broadcaster on Saturday, they “cannot be moved like a football game.” He also ruled out cancelling the Games.
“A cancellation of the Games would be the least fair solution. A cancellation would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes of 206 Olympic committees,” he said.
As countries around the globe scramble to stop the spread of the virus, slamming shut borders and cutting off international travel, Canadians woke up Saturday to a new reality: the world’s longest undefended border is no longer open for routine, casual traffic between Canada and the United States.
Snowbirds urged to come home
The ban on non-essential cross-border travel went into effect at midnight ET and will stay in place for at least 30 days as both countries scramble to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19. Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne says Canadian snowbirds living in the U.S. should come home now and the border will remain open for them.
Champagne said additional flights are in the works to bring Canadians home from Peru and Spain. Negotiations are also underway with governments in India, the Philippines and Ecuador, Champagne said.
WATCH | Will Canada’s $82-billion COVID-19 aid package be enough?
In Ottawa, Parliament will reconvene on Tuesday with just a few MPs from each party, just enough to form a quorum. The recall is to adopt the government’s proposed multi-billion-dollar emergency economic measures announced last week. The aid package is to soften the blow of the pandemic on businesses and individuals. The Senate will be called back Wednesday to pass the bill. Royal Assent is expected the same day.
Canada has ramped up testing for COVID-19 dramatically in the last week, with more than 83,000 tests now completed, more than 80 per cent of them since March 14. That includes more than 20,000 tests conducted on Thursday and Friday.
WATCH | ‘We want to go home,’ says Canadian stranded in Peru
Schools are now closed in most of the country, restaurants and bars mostly open only for take-out service, and movie theatres, concert halls and other public gathering spaces locked up.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Saturday Canadians who have so drastically changed their daily lives to try to do their part to stop COVID-19 deserve a big thanks, but he warned people not to let up any time soon.
In Canada, there are now more than 1,200 confirmed cases, and at least 19 deaths, including four deaths announced at the same Quebec care home.
An Air Canada flight has landed in Montreal, bringing 444 Canadians home from Morocco as borders shut down around the world.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and other areas of the world dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
B.C. says it has freed up thousands of acute care hospital beds. The government said the beds were made available after it ordered the cancellations of non-urgent elective surgeries. B.C. also ordered all restaurants and bars to stop dine-in services; nightclubs, playgrounds and libraries to close; and banned gatherings of more than 50 people. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Ontario says it’s launching a website to help businesses retool and shift their focus to producing much-needed medical equipment. Meanwhile, Toronto’s University Health Network says it will no longer allow visitors, with exceptions for compassionate grounds and for special safety needs. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec’s provincial police have begun a “special operation” to assist the Health Ministry in enforcing the Public Health Act. “As of now, it’s clear we’re going to constrain the people who do not respect the guidelines,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director. On Friday a person who tested positive for COVID-19 was arrested in Quebec City for defying quarantine orders. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
Nurses at three Edmonton clinics have refused to swab patients for COVID-19 because they say aren’t being provided with N95 face masks by Alberta Health Services. Roughly 30 nurses say “they need N95 to properly protect themselves,” according to their union, but AHS says they’re not required in order to perform the tests. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan says only essential health-care workers are exempt from self-isolation restrictions. Premier Scott Moe said on Friday he was concerned some individuals who recently travelled outside of Canada were not respecting self-isolation requirements. As a result, those who violate the rules could be subject to a $2,000 fine. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Winnipeg opened its first drive-thru community screening site, marking the third such drive-thru location in Manitoba. There are 11 testing locations in total in the province. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Retired physicians in New Brunswick have offered their services should they be required. The offer comes as Premier Blaine Higgs says health officials believe the peak of viral infections could still be up to five weeks away. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency Sunday, limiting gatherings to no more than five people and imposing stiff fines for individuals and businesses that don’t comply with self-isolation or quarantine orders. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Newfoundland and Labrador opened test centres with Western and Eastern Health on Saturday. The province’s health authority says the clinics will operate seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with nurses collecting samples while individuals remain in their vehicles. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
P.E.I. is asking people to self-isolate if they’ve travelled off-island within Canada. The province will also be implementing enhanced screening measures at the Confederation Bridge, the Charlottetown airport and the ferry in Souris. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
In the Northwest Territories, the chief public health officer confirmed the territory’s first case on Saturday. The person had travelled to British Columbia and Alberta, according to a statement, and then returned home to Yellowknife.
Here’s a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province:
- British Columbia: 424 confirmed cases, including six recovered and 10 deaths.
- Ontario: 424 confirmed cases, including six recovered and three deaths.
- Alberta: 226 confirmed cases, including three recovered and one death.
- Quebec: 181 confirmed cases, including one recovered and five deaths.
- Saskatchewan: 44 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Manitoba: 19 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Nova Scotia: 28 confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Prince Edward Island: Two cases the province lists as positive.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Six confirmed and presumptive cases.
- Northwest Territories: one confirmed case.
- Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed cases.
Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Not all provinces are listing figures on those who have recovered. The recent COVID-19 related death in Japan is not currently included in the province-by-province tally of cases.
Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters, updated at 10:15 a.m. ET
Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate were headed back to the negotiating table on Sunday as they scrambled to work out a $1-trillion-plus bill aimed at limiting the pandemic’s heavy toll on the economy. The bill, Congress’s third effort to limit the economic hit, aimed to include financial assistance for average Americans, small businesses and critically affected industries including airlines.
The virus has killed at least 325 and sickened more than 25,000 across the United States, leading governors and mayors to shut schools, businesses and many aspects of American life.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted on Sunday the White House and Congress would reach an agreement. He said the package would include loans for small businesses, direct deposits that could give an average U.S. family of four $3,000 and up to $4 trillion in liquidity for the U.S. central bank to support the economy.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Saturday mandating that all non-essential retail businesses close stores and almost all state residents stay home. The order follows similar moves by Illinois, New York and California.
The sweeping state-by-state public health restrictions, unprecedented in breadth and scope, added to the distance being experienced among ordinary Americans even as the pandemic seemed to close in on the highest levels of power in the nation’s capital.
WATCH | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is worried about the lack of hospital ventilators:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in non-essential businesses must stay home as much as possible and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of more than 19 million people, which has seen more than 11,000 cases and 56 deaths. He acted after California all but confined its 40 million residents to their homes.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid coronavirus diagnostic test, with a detection time of about 45 minutes. The test’s developer, California-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, said on Saturday it had received an emergency use authorization from the FDA for the test, which will be used primarily in hospitals and emergency rooms. The company plans to begin shipping it to hospitals next week, it said.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9:30 a.m. ET
Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus epidemic increased to 1,720 on Sunday from 1,326 the day before, according to multiple media outlets citing the latest health data. The number of registered cases in the country rose to 28,572 on Sunday from 24,926 in the previous tally announced on Saturday, the reports added. As the second worst-hit country in Europe, Spain will be extending its 15-day state of emergency and lockdown order announced last week for another 15 days.
In Cyprus, a police spokesperson says authorities have turned away a boat carrying around 100 migrants, citing government directives banning the entry of foreign nationals.
France now has 100,000 security personnel on the streets who are issuing fines amid a new national “Stay Home” mantra and warnings by officials that the country’s two-week lockdown could be extended if the country’s infection rate keeps rising. France on Sunday had nearly 15,000 infections and more than 560 deaths.
In Germany, the number of confirmed cases rose above 20,000, with 70 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Germany’s official Robert Koch Institute listed 16,662 case and 47 deaths, but officials have acknowledged that their count lags behind figures provided by regional health authorities.
Some German states, such as Bavaria, have stepped up measures to contain the outbreak by further restricting the reasons people can leave their homes. That’s prompted some criticism about stricter curfew measures.
Britain still lags behind Italy, Spain and France in the spread of the virus, but the country’s overstretched health system is creaking.
The state-funded National Health Service has about 4,000 critical-care beds and some 5,000 ventilators, and officials say that’s far fewer than will be needed as the number of cases spikes in the coming weeks. Britain, which has recorded more than 5,000 confirmed cases and 233 deaths, has already asked 65,000 retired nurses and doctors to return to work.
The Czech government is sending to Italy about 100,000 face masks and respirators that were among hundreds of thousands seized in the country earlier this week. Czech authorities used emergency powers to raid a warehouse and seize 680,000 masks and 28,000 respirators on Tuesday. The state was negotiating to acquire the equipment with a private company but before reaching a deal the price significantly increased, prompting the seizure.
Here’s what’s happening in Asia
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7:00 a.m. ET
Vietnam will bar entry for all foreigners starting Sunday, except for those on “diplomatic and special purposes,” the government said on Saturday, as the country’s cases rose to 94 with no deaths. Those allowed to enter will be subject to quarantine and will need approval from the ministries of police, health and foreign affairs.
Thailand partially closed all shopping malls in the capital Bangkok and nearby provinces on Sunday as the country reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections. The city’s malls, except for supermarkets and pharmacies, are closed for 22 days beginning March 22. The measures come as Thailand reported 188 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing its tally to 599, with the majority of cases in Bangkok.
Japan has recorded 1,055 cases of domestically transmitted cases of coronavirus as of Sunday, up 40 from the previous day, according to public broadcaster NHK. The number passed the 1,000 milestone on Saturday as the nation battles to avoid a health crisis ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
WATCH | China sees imported cases rise:
In India, the typically boisterous streets of the capital New Delhi fell silent on Sunday as the country observed a 14-hour “people’s curfew” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for in a national address to stem the rising coronavirus caseload. No commercial airplanes from abroad are allowed to land in India for a week starting Sunday, and four states sealed their borders to public and tourist buses. Most businesses were expected to be closed except for essential services like hospitals.
India currently has more than 300 confirmed cases and four deaths from COVID-19.
Indonesia on Sunday confirmed 64 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 514.
The Chinese health authority said Sunday it received reports of 46 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the Chinese mainland, of which 45 were imported from abroad. The overall confirmed cases on the mainland, where the epidemic erupted in December, had reached 81,054 by the end of Saturday. That number includes 5,549 patients who were still being treated, 72,244 patients who had been discharged after recovery, and 3,261 people who died of the disease.
Though the epidemic erupted in China in December, and South Korea at one stage had the second-most infections, both subsequently succeeded in stifling domestic transmission of the virus.
South Korea reported 147 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new cases bring the country’s total to 8,799. The country’s election commission says all voters will be required to wear masks and use disposable gloves at ballot booths during the April 15 parliamentary elections.
Here’s a look at some other developments around COVID-19
- Canadian consumers are still snapping up supplies, leaving some store shelves empty, despite efforts to restock. Some grocery stores have implemented limits on essential items while others have not. The Retail Council of Canada, an industry group that represents big chains like Loblaw, Sobeys and Walmart, says it doesn’t plan to advocate for any rationing or limits per person.
Bolivia’s interim government announced on Saturday it would postpone presidential elections originally slated for May 3 and institute a mandatory countrywide quarantine for 14 days. Bolivia earlier this week closed its borders and cancelled all international flights. The country has confirmed 19 cases of COVID-19.
El Salvador declared a 30-day curfews in response to the virus.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Saturday by more than 100 to 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.
Africa’s cases of the coronavirus rose above 1,000 on Saturday. Angola and Uganda announced their first cases; Congo and Ghana reported their first deaths; and Burkina Faso reported two new ones — that country now has the most COVID-19 deaths of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Many African countries have already shut their borders, closed schools and universities and barred large public gatherings.
Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America, with the health ministry saying on Saturday 18 people have now died and over 1,100 are infected. The state of Sao Paulo alone has recorded 15 deaths, six of them reported on Saturday. That led Sao Paulo state Gov. Joao Doria to announce a two-week, statewide partial shutdown — a first in Brazil. Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops may not open, but people will be allowed to go outside.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday unveiled a $66.4-billion Australian ($55.2 billion Cdn) stimulus package that includes cash payments for eligible small businesses and welfare recipients. Starting Monday, bars, clubs, cinemas, casinos, and religious and sporting venues will have to shut down. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeout service only, but schools remain open. Morrison said the restrictions would be in place for at least six months, but added the time frame could be reconsidered if the health situation changes. Australia has confirmed more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, including seven deaths.
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