Yahoo News Canada is committed to providing our readers with the most accurate and recent information on all things coronavirus. We know things change quickly, including some possible information in this story. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage our readers to consult online resources like Canada’s public health website, World Health Organization, as well as our own Yahoo Canada homepage.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians seem to be increasingly concerned about their health and safety.
Currently, there are more than 5,500 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada and 60 deaths.
Check back for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Canada.
1:00 p.m.: Doug Ford blasts price-gougers: ‘It’s un-Canadian and it’s wrong’
Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled harsh measures for price-gouging retailers on Saturday.
"If you're out there trying to price gouge and take advantage of the situation... hiking the price and selling it back to people, stop. Stop right now. It's un-Canadian and wrong,” the premier said.
The new measures have ‘drastically' increased the penalty for a practice the leader called ‘disgusting.’
If retailers are selling face masks, gloves, cold medicine, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and are altering prices, the premier has a warning: “We’re coming after you, and we will shut you down.”
The new enhanced penalties include summons to court, a year in jail, $100,000 fine if you’re an individual, $500,000 if you’re a director of a corporation and up to $10 million for the corporation as a whole.
Premier Doug Ford also said he is limiting gatherings to no more than five people. Previously, the rule was no more than 50 people. Essential business, child care facilities, and families of more than 5 people are exempt.
12:00 p.m. ‘We are seeing encouraging signs’
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, offered Canadians encouraging news at the federal minister’s update.
While over 5,153 Canadians are unwell, only 7 per cent have been hospitalized, 3 per cent are critically ill and 1 per cent of cases are fatal.
Tam confirmed there is some ‘cautious optimism’ coming out of British Columbia, with a slight flattening of the curve and reduced growth of cases. The country will look closely at the province's cases and curve to confirm what method of distancing is most effective in coming weeks.
The optimism coming out of British Columbia doesn’t mean that social distancing should come to an end.
“This should spur us to keep up with our new habit of social distancing. We need to stay the course,” Tam urged.
The important thing is to stay in your bubble and not burst someone else’s by getting within 2-metres of distance of them.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo reiterated Tam’s message when asked about how long social distancing will continue across the country.
‘We can’t predict what will happen in the future but there have been encouraging signs. The number of cases is decreasing in British Columbia, or even in Canada. It's important we stay the course and we not give up.”
11:15 a.m.: Trudeau announces new travel restrictions
PM Trudeau on ‘another different Saturday’ during the coronavirus pandemic, announced new rules set in place by Transport Canada for domestic travel across the country.
Starting at noon on Monday, any travellers showing signs of COVID-19 will be denied boarding on planes, trains or other means of travel across the country.
The PM urged the need to continue social isolating, citing positive benefits coming out of B.C., where the curve is showing very early signs of flattening after two weeks of public isolation.
‘We must continue to keep a safe distance from one another, and make responsible decisions,’ Trudeau urged.
Trudeau also reiterated the mandatory 14-day isolation rules instituted for Canadians early in the week. The maximum fines and penalties for violating the rule could be up to $750K, and jail time.
11:00 a.m.: Canadian dies in Brazil of COVID-19
A Canadian citizen, who was on a cruise, has died from COVID-19 complications in Brazil, according to Global Affairs Canada.
No further information about the individual have been provided due to privacy reasons.
6:00 p.m.: Provincial updates on COVID-19
Alberta has confirmed 56 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, totalling more than 540 cases to date. Up to 42 cases are suspected to be community transmitted cases from an unknown source and 33 Albertans have recovered.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said over the last several days about 1,000 tests have been done daily, following changes to the province’s testing protocols on Monday. Effective Friday, testing for healthcare workers is starting and the province expects the lab will be testing at least 2,000 a day people moving forward.
Now, only gatherings of only 15 people are less are allowed in the province, Premier Jason Kenney announced on Friday. Non-essential businesses will also be closing, as well as non-critical and non-emergency health services.
“We determined that several new measures are necessary to further strengthen protection for Albertans,” Kenney said. “The actions we are taking are tough but necessary to protect public health.”
Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, and Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams provided an update on the status of COVID-19 in the province.
There are more than 990 cases in Ontario, an increase of 135 cases in one day. About 16 per cent of known cases are considered community spread but about 40 per cent of cases are unknown. Dr. Yaffe said this likely because people cannot remember exactly where they’ve been and who they’ve been with in the 14 days before becoming symptomatic.
The province is still working to increase testing capacity to 5,000 people a day. Currently, approximately 3,500 individuals can be tested on a daily basis.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec has topped 2,000, with 18 deaths in the province. A total of 392 cases were reported in 24 hours. There are 141 people in hospital and 50 are in intensive care.
Quebec Premier François Legault said the province’s early March break period, compared to the rest of Canada, has impacted the significant jump in cases, with many people from the province leaving just before advisories to not travel were implemented.
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is “cautiously optimistic” about the transmission of COVID-19 after sharing modelling data.
“We are, maybe, starting to bend a little bit,” Dr. Henry said about the province’s transmission forecast, based on cumulative COVID-19 cases. “I’m trying not to overcall it but I do believe we’ve seen a flattening, a falling off of that curve.”
The data shows that B.C.’s transmission rate has dropped from 24 per cent to 12 per cent, which Dr. Henry indicates is associated with physical distancing measures and travel restrictions.
She added that the province is at approximately 130 cases per million population. Dr. Henry indicated that if the province had kept on the same trajectory from Mar. 14, B.C. would have expected to have about 215 cases per million at this point.
“What we need though, is for everybody to continue to pay attention to these measures so that we can continue to prevent the transmission in our communities, continue to separate to stop those chains of transmission,” Dr. Henry said.
2:00 p.m.: Alert from Ontario
At 2:00 p.m. the Ontario government sent an emergency alert to mobile phones, televisions and radio telling travellers to the province that they must self-isolate for 14 days.
“DO NOT visit stores, family or friends. Everyone should stay home to stop the spread,” the alert reads, with a link to the provincial government’s COVID-19 web page.
Many people took. to social media to applaud the move from the government.
— academy.ca/votenow (@ItsReallyAmber) March 27, 2020
1:00 p.m.: ‘Do not underestimate the severity of this disease’
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo addressed questions about what timeframe the government is working with to combat COVID-19.
“Do not underestimate the severity of this disease,” Dr. Njoo said. “We’re in it for the long haul. It’s not going to be days and weeks, it’s going to be months.”
He added that health experts are also looking at the possibility of a “second wave” of the virus once some of these strict COVID-19 measures start to be lifted. Dr. Njoo continued to stress that Canadians must keep social distancing and self-isolating.
“Whatever your situation is, stay in your bubble...and don’t burst someone else’s bubble,” Dr. Njoo said, using the “bubble” term coined in New Zealand that each individual should maintain a personal two-metre space.
Freeland added that, “it is certainly going to get worse before it’s going to get better.”
“All of us at the federal level, provincially, in cities, in hospital across the country, are preparing incredibly energetically for that inevitability,” she said. “There is nothing I would love more than to say to you and Canadians, on this specific date it will be all over.”
“Our best experts cannot tell us, with certainty, precisely when this will end. They can tell us the things we can do to get through it with the best health outcomes for Canadians.”
Dr. Njoo also stressed that Canadians should leave personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, for frontline workers to ensure that we can meet the demands. He added that this PPE is not necessary for people who are going to the grocery store.
There are more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 39 deaths, approximately a one per cent fatality rate, and six per cent of cases have required hospitalization. More than 163,000 tests have been conducted.
Canada’s relationship with the U.S.
Freeland said that Canada is continuing discussions with the U.S. about their consideration to place military troops at the border.
“Canada has continued to express clearly and forcefully its view that there is no logical reason to militarize our border with the United States, and we have been very clear that such an action would damage our relationship,” she said.
When asked about American authorities deporting refugees who have been mandated to go back to U.S. at irregular border crossings, the deputy prime minister said Canada is “urgently” discussing this situation.
“That is an issue that we are currently discussing urgently with our American partners,” Freeland said. “It’s very important to Canada to abide by our international commitments. We’re clearly alive to those concerns.”
Last week, the Canadian government announced that all asylum seekers at irregular crossings must return to the U.S. as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would cover 10 per cent of wages for small and medium sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, he announced that amount has increased to payroll support of 75 per cent for qualifying businesses, backdated to Mar. 15.
“People will continue to be paid,” Trudeau said. “Even if their employer had to...stop operation.”
“We have to get through these coming months of restricted economic activity where people stay at home...as much as possible.”
The prime minister added that he hopes employers will consider keeping their staff during this time.
“We know that allowing people to continue that relationship...is a really important thing,” Trudeau said. “Not just for people’s confidence but for the ability for all of us to bounce back.”
The government has established the Canada emergency business account. Banks will soon offer $40,000 in interest-free loans to businesses, which will be guaranteed by the government. Businesses can also delay GST/HST payments until June.
This announcement comes after the Bank of Canada slashed its interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent.
How long will these COVID-19 measures last?
The prime minister was asked if he has any sense of a timeline of when these COVID-19 measures, particularly self-isolation, will be in place for.
“There are obviously many different projections,” Trudeau said. “But those projections all hinge on choices that Canadians are making today.”
He added that whether this is the reality of Canadians for weeks or months will become more clear as time progresses and actions by the people in the country are taken.
In terms of his personal self-isolation, the prime minister said he will continue stay home for the time being.
“The doctors continue to tell us to stay in self isolation,” he said. “We’re asking Canadians to stay self isolated as much as possible...and I am happy to continue to do this.”
Military troops at the Canada-U.S. border
Trudeau was also asked about the possibility of the U.S. placing military troops at the border. The prime minister reiterated that he hopes this is not he decision they make as both countries benefit “immensely” from the demilitarized border.
Trudeau said it “would be a mistake to position troops near the Canadian border and we certainly hope they will not go through with that.”
The prime minister says he continue to engage closely with American counterparts.
10:15 p.m.: Where Canada stands on March 26, 2020
Here’s a tally of cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of tonight:
6:00 p.m.: Provincial updates on COVID-19
Quebec has confirmed that there are more than 1,600 COVID-19 cases in the province, up by 290 in the past 24 hours. Two more people have died from the virus, bringing Quebec’s total deaths to eight.
There are more than 100 people people in hospital and 43 are in intensive care. Most of the cases, more than 780, are in Montreal.
The province has said that the significant increase in positive cases is due to hospital tests being confirmed, without a separate provincial lab test required.
Alberta’s total COVID-19 cases is over 480, with 67 new cases confirmed in Thursday’s daily update. The province believes more than 30 cases are community transmissions with 21 people in hospital, 10 in intensive care.
Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said 27 Albertans have recovered from the virus while the province continues to test approximately 3,000 cases a day.
Saskatchewan has 95 COVID-19 cases to date and three recoveries in province. Five people are in hospital and one is in intensive care. Five cases are due to community transmission in the province.
3:00 p.m.: ‘We have some rough waters ahead’
Ontario Premier Doug Ford continues to say that people across their province need to do their part to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I’ll be frank. We have some rough waters ahead of us over the next few weeks,” Ford said. “We’re doing everything we can on all fronts and not just the government but the people are doing it.”
— blogTO (@blogTO) March 26, 2020
“People have the nerve to actually jack up their prices to $30 a container for hand wipes? It’s beyond belief,” Ford said. “A message to anyone who price gouges, we’re coming after you. We’re going to come after you hard.”
“They’re done. They’re going to be gone. Noting gets me more furious than someone taking advantage and price gouging the public that are in desperate need of these items.”
An apology from the company has been posted on social media, stating that their stores are “facing immense pressure” and because of that “critical elements were overlooked.”
Pusateri’s has added their apology to their website: pic.twitter.com/HqtLbacWlo
— Cristina Tenaglia (@cristina_CP24) March 26, 2020
In Ontario, 170 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported with 858 across the province to date. There have been 15 deaths and eight resolved cases. There are currently 29 people in intensive care and 20 on ventilators.
Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said 25 per cent of cases have no travel history and did not come in close contact with a someone who is known to have COVID-19.
1:30 p.m.: ‘Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal’
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed that she found out about the U.S. considering putting military troops at the border “a few days ago.” She said Canada has made their position on the possibility very clear.
“Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we have made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts and we will continue to do so,” Freeland said.
The proposal was put forward by President Donald Trump as a means of securing the border from illegal crossers.
Freeland added that this isn’t a trade issue, and the actions are “in Canada's view...an entirely unnecessary step, which we will view as damaging to our relationship.”
The Canada-U.S. border is the longest undefended border in the world. Earlier in the day, Trudeau was clear that he intends to keep it that way.
How Canada will ensure that travellers are self-isolating
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam gave some additional details on what will happen when travellers return to Canada, now that it is mandatory that they self-isolate for 14 days.
Symptomatic people will be immediately given an order to isolate. If there is a significant risk, like the individual living with a vulnerable person, there are federal quarantine sites available. People who were planning on getting on a connecting flight may be required to stay at one of these quarantine sites. The government also has medical transport available that can bring individuals to their home city, demanding on the distance.
Dr. Tam said that there are already individuals in these federal quarantine sites, including someone in a Vancouver facility, a couple in Quebec and a truck driver.
Asymptomatic individuals will be able to go home in their private vehicle and the government will work with local public health to make sure they go straight home.
For individuals isolating at home, there will be random checks to ensure that they are in fact in quarantine, based on the information collected about the traveller at the border.
There are currently more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 35 deaths. More than 158,000 people have been tested.
Dr. Tam indicated that there has been a sharp increase in cases in Quebec following March break travel and in Newfoundland following a funeral. A the moment, six per cent of all case require hospitalization, over two per cent are critically ill and one per cent have been fatal.
11:30 a.m.: U.S. troops at the border
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about a Global News story on the U.S. president looking to put military troops at the Canada-U.S. border.
The prime minister confirmed that he has been in discussions with the White House, saying it is the longest demilitarized border in the world and its “very much in both countries’ interest to keep it that way.”
‘Serious fines and even prison time’ for travellers who do not quarantine
Trudeau began his daily update by highlighting some of the key aspects of the $107 billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which includes providing Canadians with $2,000 a month if they lost their jobs due to COVID-19, boosting the Canada Child Benefit for families in May and a six month interest free moratorium on student loans.
The prime minister warned Canadians that there is a text scam going around related to this new response benefit. Trudeau said people should go to the government’s website for accurate information related to this response plan.
Trudeau confirmed that it is now mandatory for all travellers to go straight into quarantine after returning to Canada. If someone does not follow the requirement they will face “serious fines and even prison time.”
There will be a fine of up to $750,000 and six months in jail but if anyone is found to have caused a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person, there could be fines of up to $1 million and imprisonment for up to three years.
“We’re taking greater action. I’ve been very clear on this...if you’ve just returned from abroad you have to go home and stay home for 14 days,” Trudeau said. “Some people are not taking this seriously.”
“Public health will be following up with many cases to makes sure that people are following these rules.”
Global response to COVID-19
The prime minister said he has been communicating with world leaders in order to have a “global response” to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We can only overcome COVID-19 if we take action together as a global community,” Trudeau said.
He added that the federal government has been able to meet the needs of the provinces for personal protective equipment but “millions” of additional items are on the way. When asked about the equipment Canada sent to China last month, the prime minister said helping allies is “a way of helping ourselves.”
10:15 p.m. Where Canada stands on March 25, 2020
Here’s a tally of cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of tonight:
5:00 p.m.: Ontario’s $17 billion COVID-19 response
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips presented the province’s economic plan for the COVID-19 outbreak with $17 billion in emergency measures.
The government will be providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years old and $250 per child with special needs for families. There will be six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students.
The plan includes $10 billion to support Ontarians and businesses through tax deferrals, including allowing municipalities to defer paying property tax to school boards for 90 days.
It also includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources in the province, $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring and $341 million for an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds, and additional assessment centres.
The Ontario government has indicated that the province expects to have a $20.5 billion deficit after these added measures.
Ontario has confirmed 100 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and five more deaths. There are currently more than 670 positive COVID-19 cases in the province.
At this point, 40 people are in hospital with COVID-19, 17 intensive care and 15 on ventilators.
Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams continue to urge everyone in the province to practice social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19
2:00 p.m.: Travellers must quarantine
It has been announced that the federal government is invoking the Quarantine Act, as of midnight tonight, it will be mandatory for any travellers returning to Canada to quarantine for 14 days.
The purpose of the act is to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and gives the health minister to fine or jail anyone who goes against the quarantine orders.
Earlier this month, we asked all travellers to self-isolate when they returned to Canada. Today, we are making this isolation mandatory under the Quarantine Act to better protect our most vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/bKLdKh4mEu
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 25, 2020
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland said there will be “a legal obligation” for people to isolate for 14 day. Essential workers are excluded from this measure.
This comes after reports of travellers stopping a grocery stores and other public places before going into isolation at home.
Freeland added that contact details of all people returning to Canada will be collected to ensure they are self isolating.
“My officials are working with CBSA right now to ensure that people know that this will be serious and that there will be significant penalties if people violate the quarantine," Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said.
This move comes as the government has also passed its $107 billion emergency aid package, which received royal assent on Wednesday afternoon.
12:00 p.m.: $52 billion in direct support to Canadians
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, has confirmed that there are more than 3,100 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. More than 140,000 people have been tested across the country to date and community acquired cases are now more than travel-related COVID-19 cases in Canada.
Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, said that Indigenous communities will receive $300 million in federal funding, highlighting that people in these more remote communities are particularly vulnerable.
Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau addressed the new emergency response benefit, saying it has been augmented from the original proposal announced last week and will provide $52 billion in direct support, instead of the initial $27 billion. Another $55 billion will be accessible in tax deferrals.
Morneau said this new benefit will be available to Canadians who earned $5,000 or more in the past 12 months, but are no longer receiving pay due to COVID-19.
11:15 a.m.: Impacted Canadians to $2,000 a month in federal support
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday morning that the House of Commons has passed an emergency bill, which is now before the Senate, for the government’s COVID-19 emergency response.
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will replace the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit announced last week, for a more “streamlined” approach.
“We will adapt our approach wherever needed,” Trudeau said.
The government will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months to people who are not working due to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are unwell. The benefit will also support Canadians who are sick, in quarantine, or are looking after a family member or child.
An online portal will be available to submit applications. People will start to receive money within 10 days of applying. The hope is that this system will be running by Apr. 6, the prime minister said.
To date, approximately one million people have applied for EI, with 143,000 claims processed to date. The federal government has boosted the team to address these claims by 13,000.
“We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation with an overwhelming amount of demand,” Trudeau said, adding that the government’s response needs to be “reliable and quick.”
4:00 p.m.: COVID-19 could ‘overwhelm’ Saskatchewan Health Authority
In a document obtained by The Canadian Press, the COVID-19 outbreak will “exceed” the existing capacity of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which includes hospital beds and ventilators.
The plan from Mar. 20 shows that the fatality rate is expected to total between three to five per cent, or between 9,000 and 15,000 people, and approximately 30 per cent will be infected.
This “worst case scenario” document says that “time is of the essence” and “immediate” action needs to be taken as demand for acute services increases.
3:30 p.m.: WestJet lays off 50 per cent of staff
WestJet Airlines has announced that approximately 50 per cent will be laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak, impacting 6,900 employees.
“This is devastating news for all WestJetters,” Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO said in a statement. “The fact that we avoided a potentially worse outcome is testament to the spirit and selfless attitude demonstrated by our people, who have enabled WestJet to continue operating with a collective remaining workforce of 7,100.”
3:00 p.m.: Provincial updates on COVID-19
The province of Ontario has announced that people and businesses in the province will be billed off-peak electricity rates for the next 45 days.
Tonight, at midnight, all non-essential businesses in Ontario must close. When asked about why LCBO and cannabis stores are considered “essential” during this time, premier Doug Ford said the government was urged by mental health and addiction experts to keep these “critical” outlets open.
“They don’t want to put more of a burden on the healthcare system,” Ford said. “The advice we received from them is make sure they stay open.”
The premier was also asked about reported shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the province. Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott said there is global demand for these products but there is an “adequate” supply of PPE in the province.
There are currently more than 500 COVID-19 cases in Ontario. A total of 40 per cent of cases are being investigated for their source, while 55 per cent of known cases are travellers and 13 per cent have no history of exposure to a case or travel themselves.
There are 50 individuals in hospitals across the province and 17 in intensive care, seven of which are adults who are currently intubated.
Quebec has reported a significant spike in cases across the province. There are now more than 1,000 cases in the province, an increase of more than 600 cases in one day. There are more than 60 cases in hospital and 31 are in intensive care.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault has closed all non-essential businesses, beginning at midnight tonight. The premier said that the province in relying on everyone in the province to listen to public health experts and follow the measures in place.
1:00 p.m.: Community cases rise in Canada
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that the number of community cases and the number of COVID-19 cases directly connected to travel are roughly evenly split across the country.
“That is a very fundamental shift in our epidemiology,” Dr. Tam said.
Previously, Canada had seen the majority of cases in individuals who travelled outside of the country.
There are currently more than 2,100 cases in Canada and 25 deaths. Approximately 10,000 Canadians have been tested for COVID-19 per day so far.
When asked about getting personal protective equipment for frontline workers, Dr. Tam told the public that there is very high global demand for these supplies but Canada is working with domestic manufacturers to increase production of these items.
Dr. Tam added that although there has been a lot of messaging about protecting particularly vulnerable communities, like seniors, she reminded Canadians that a large number of cases are younger age groups. These younger people can still get seriously ill, particularly individuals who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
“All of us can potentially get this disease and you may not be able to tell if you’re the one who’s going to get particularly ill,” she said.
11:45 a.m.: MPs to return to the House of Commons
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the public before a small group of 32 MPs reconvene at the House of Commons to pass emergency legislation to provide additional funds to Canadians and businesses, based on the government’s $82 billion plan.
“Passing this bill today means getting you the money you need as soon as possible,” Trudeau said. “You have my unwavering commitment, we will protect and uphold our democratic values.”
The prime minister added that as the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada evolves, the government will continue to adjust its approach, based on recommendations from the country’s health experts. Last night, Trudeau spoke with provincial and territorial leaders and discussed the emergency measures currently in place, what is working and where more work can be done.
“All options are on the table,” the prime minister said, adding that the premiers did not believe that enacting the Emergencies Act is necessary at this point. “If people do not comply with expert advice...we will have to take additional steps.”
Canadians continue to come home
Trudeau said nearly one million Canadians have travelled home amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He confirmed that some have had difficulty returning home but there is “at least” one more flight from Morocco scheduled to return to Canada, in addition to flights from Peru, Tunisia and Ukraine.
“If you just returned from abroad go straight home from the airport,” the prime minister said. “This is not a suggestion. You need to go home and stay there.”
He added that if these measures are not followed, the government “will put much more stringent measures in place.”
When asked about reported delays in testing times, the prime minister said the government has been enhancing testing capabilities and will continue to accelerate testing across Canada.
4:00 p.m.: Provincial updates on COVID-19
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has confirmed that there are 472 cases in the province and 13 deaths, but 100 people have recovered from COVID-19.
A total of 33 people are currently in hospital with the virus and 14 are in intensive care. Six different longterm care homes have been impacted by COVID-19.
“In my 30 years of actually working on pandemic planning, never actually thought I would ever implement things like travel restrictions and closures of schools, and the physical distancing measures that we are requiring of everybody right now,” Dr. Henry said.
Alberta Health Services has announced that it will no longer test people with mild symptoms for COVID-19.
“Changing our testing protocols will allow us to focus Alberta’s testing capacity on those most at risk,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a statement.
Moving forward, individuals who will be prioritized for testing are:
People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
People who returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and March 12 (before the self-isolation protocols were in place.
Health-care workers with respiratory symptoms (this testing will begin later this week).
Everyone else will be asked to self-isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days or or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
Quebec is shutting down all non-essential businesses, effective Tuesday at midnight. This does not include gas stations, grocery stories, pharmacies, restaurant take-out services, hotels, funeral homes and the SAQ.
Premier François Legault said the decision was made after community transmission of COVID-19 was discovered in the province.
There are over 600 cases in Quebec with 45 people in hospital and 20 in intensive care.
3:00 p.m.: Toronto declares a state of emergency
Toronto Mayor John Tory has declared a state of emergency in the city due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision was made after the mayor spoke with Toronto health officials.
We are declaring a State of Emergency as part of the City's ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead. pic.twitter.com/xsjZQ4Pnf8
— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 23, 2020
Tory can now make decisions that would usually require city council approval.
“We are declaring a State of Emergency as part of the City's ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead,” Tory said in a statement.
“I remain confident that we will get through this pandemic by continuing to work together and all following the advice of our public health professionals.”
1:30 p.m.: Ontario closes all non-essential businesses
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said all non-essential businesses in the province must close. This excludes manufacturers, grocery stores, LCBO shops, pharmacies and take-out restaurants.
“We will and we must take all steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ford said. “The health and safety of every Ontarian must come first.”
When asked about construction sites across Ontario, the premier said that having outhouses overflowing and not providing adequate sanitary items is “unacceptable.”
“Get your act together. Take care of your frontline contrasting workers,” Ford said. “If they don’t do it, we’ll do it.”
The premier was asked what the consequences will be for businesses who go against this directive and remain open. He responded by saying the province does have measures in place to enforce these rules, including working with police authorities.
“If they want to break that, there will be consequences,” Ford said. “But we don’t want to run that way, we’re all in this together. Do the responsible thing and close your shop.”
He added that snowbirds and people arriving back in Ontario cannot stop at grocery stores, gas stations and other public spaces.
“Go directly home and stay in your house,” Ford said. “You’re putting thousands and thousands of people at risk. You have to self-isolate for 14 days.”
Ontario schools won’t resume classes on Apr. 6
The premier also said that school’s in Ontario will not be open to student on Apr. 6, contrary to the latest directive from the provincial government.
“The kids won’t be going back to school on Apr. 6,” Ford said. “The reality is April the 6th is not realistic right now.”
“We’re making sure that people are safe and our priority is to make sure our kids are safe.”
There are currently over 500 cases of COVID-19 in the province and six deaths. More than 71 per cent of cases are directly related to travel, while 17 per cent had no history of travel or close connection to someone who travelled. A total of 23 people are in hospital with the virus and 26 healthcare workers have been impacted by COVID-19.
12:00 p.m.: Community exposure continues to be a concern
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are 1,474 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 20 deaths. Across the country 102,000 people have been tested. Many people have been exposed to the virus from outside of Canada, while the number of cases not linked to travel continues to be a concern.
Dr. Tam said we must slow down community transmission through “unrelenting social distancing” in order to buy time for innovation and research to occur. The Chief Public Health Officer said asymptomatic passengers from the Princess Cruise ship will be released from CFB Trenton tomorrow, while the departure date for others who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts will depend of when their symptoms first appeared.
She added that Canadians should be proud that our country is part of the World Health Organization’s SOLIDARITY global trial. When asked about the potential use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, Dr. Tam said it’s very important to have the scientific evidence before we start administering drugs to patients.
“We need the evidence before you can provide the medication to people,” she said, adding that it is one of the drugs that the SOLIDARITY trial will be testing.
“You should not take medication without the scientific evidence, it can be very dangerous. These drugs have…quite significant side effects.”
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said she is “very concerned” about the mental health of Canadians during these social distancing and self-isolation measures.
“People are very worried and concerned, and forced into a situation that they prefer not to be in,” she said.
But Hajdu stressed that it is essential that travellers go straight home after arriving back in Canada, with the government even looking for ways to provide transportation for people. She added that although there is a lot of emphasis on not infecting our most vulnerable communities, particularly seniors, middle-aged, working adults have also seen “significant complications.”
“This is a very, very serious situation,” Hajdu said.
11:15 a.m.: ‘Enough is enough. Go home and stay home.’
In a forceful message on Monday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau strongly urged Canadians to “go home and stay home.”
“Social distancing, physical distancing, is the single best way to keep the people around you safe,” Trudeau said. “If you choose to ignore that advice…you’re not just putting yourself at risk, you’re putting others at risk as well.”
The prime minister went on to say that nothing is “off the table” and the government will put additional measures in place to enforce social distancing and quarantine rules, if necessary. He said it is “extremely concerning” and “frustrating” to see people outside in large groups.
“Enough is enough,” Trudeau said. “People need to stay at home as much as possible.”
The prime minister said that he will be virtually meeting with the premiers of Canada in order to coordinate efforts. He added that no province has asked the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act but they will look “carefully” at what the next steps could be.
“We need to continue to be coordinating our approaches and our communication,” the prime minister said, adding that the federal government is launching an advertising campaign to get out the recommendations from Canada’s health experts.
$192 million in funding for for vaccine development
Trudeau announced that the federal government will be providing $192 million in funds to directly support vaccine development and production.
The government is working with Medicago in Quebec, Vancouver’s AbCellera and the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. There will also be working with the National Research Council’s facility in Montreal to prepare for the rollout of a treatment.
“They will take months to develop and test,” Trudeau said. “So while that’s happening we need to work to mitigate the impacts.”
The federal government will also be providing $5 billion in additional lending capacity for farmers in Canada.
Olympics and personal isolation
Trudeau applauded the decision of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympics teams to not participate in this year’s games in Tokyo. He also encouraged anyone in the world thinking about having gatherings of thousands of people to not do so.
The prime minister said that he will continue to listen to the advice of health experts and self-isolate for the next week. Following the 14 days, he said he will “continue to follow all recommendations of public health officers.”
11:30 a.m.: Border controls within Canada, trying to bring Canadians home
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation Saturday morning with three key messages.
He spoke about the travel restrictions the Northwest Territories have imposed to protect their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trudeau said he supports the territory’s decision to close its border to non-essential travel.
In terms of international news, Trudeau said the government is also working with airlines to repatriate Canadians abroad. He confirmed a flight from Morocco is arriving in Canada this weekend and they are working with airlines to help Canadians in other countries, such as Spain and Peru.
Trudeau admitted that they will not be able to help every Canadian abroad and advised people to register with Global Affairs Canada to assess whether a flight is available or if staying in their current location is the best course of action. He added that anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board a flight home.
His third message was to thank the millions of Canadians practising social distancing, working from home and self-isolating to “keep ourselves and loved ones healthy.”
6:00 p.m.: B.C. cases surge as Canada crosses 1,000 COVID-19 infections
The province of B.C. has reported 77 new cases of COVID-19 today with 10 people in intensive care and 22 patients currently in acute care.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated that it is important that people keep social distancing and support healthcare workers.
“About two dozen healthcare workers have been impacted...with mild illness,” Dr. Henry said. “For the most part, people have been managed at home.”
She added that restaurants need to move to a take-out or delivery model only as a way to “protect” people in the province and maintain a safe distance.
“We need to go outside with our close family, with our small groups,” Dr. Henry said. “One or two or us and we need to maintain our distance with others.”
There are currently 195 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, with 49 new cases confirmed in the past 24 hours. Ten are in hospital and five are in intensive care.
The provincial government has decided to reopen some licensed childcare centres to provide service for children of essential workers in Alberta. There will be a limit of 30 people on site at any given time.
“Every single case is one that could potentially end up in a very serious condition,” Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
At senior residences, only one visitor can see a resident at a time and may have to test for possible symptoms beforehand.
When asked whether the doctor know if people can get the virus for a second time, after recovery, she said there are still some questions that need to be answered.
“The nose swab test looks for the presence or absence of the virus,” Dr. Hinshaw said, adding that we don’t know if it’s still “live and active” if people still test positive when they have seemingly recovered.
Saskatchewan has now made the 14 day self-isolation period after travel a law in the province.
Premier Scott Moe announced that public gatherings are now limited to no more than 25 people and nightclub, bars and lounges must close.
“Today, I signed an emergency order that all persons are required to comply with all order issued by the Government of Saskatchewan and the Chief Medical Health Officer,” Moe said. “All police forces in Saskatchewan are authorized to take any reasonable action, including the power of arrest, to enforce these orders.” Penalties could include a $2,000 fine for failing to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the province.
On Monday, restaurants are required to close, except for takeout and delivery services. Personal services like hair salons must close in addition to dental, optometrist, podiatrist and chiropractic clinics, except when offering non-elective procedures. Childcare centres must also limit service to eight children.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirmed that the province is testing about 3,000 people for COVID-19 a day, hoping to increase capacity to 5,000 by early next week. There have been a total of 358 confirmed cases in the province, including five resolved cases and two deaths.
Across Ontario, 13,718 people have tested negative while 5,485 are currently under investigation. The majority of COVID-19 cases in the province are connected to travel, primarily from the U.S. and Europe.
“This coming weekend and early next week is a very critical time,” Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams said, due to the number of people who will on their fifth to eighth day since they returned from travel outside of Canada.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the province is waiting for the “next big save” of COVID-19. No new cases have been identified in N.B. but the province has added resource to its Tele–Care 811 line to decrease wait times.
There are 7 positive COVID-19 cases in N.B. and 4 probable cases, while over 500 people have tested negative to date.
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I. has announced a $2 million fund to support early learning centres and families. The province also stated that they will implement “ongoing learning” resources in the province for the duration of school closure, currently expected until Apr. 3.
1:30 p.m.: Ontario’s Learn at Home portal
The Ontario government has now launched the first phase of it’s new Learn at Home online portal to help students in the province continue their education during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"To support families and students, our government has developed a one-stop spot for at-home learning,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “It doesn't replace school, but offers a great alternative as we approach the end of March Break."
#NEW: Government announces "Learn at Home" initiative which Education Minister @Sflecce says will "help mitigate ‘learning loss’ during this period of uncertainty”. Below is the release and updated @tvo schedule #onpoli #onted #CoronavirusOutbreak pic.twitter.com/yaRapxV477
— Travis Dhanraj (@Travisdhanraj) March 20, 2020
Learn at Home includes offers math and literary resources in English and French, with a focus on STEM courses for high school students.
"Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home,” a statement from Minister of Education Stephen Lecce reads.
The ministry is also working with provincial public broadcasters TVO and TFO to broadcast educational programming, in addition to online activities.
12:00 p.m.: Domestic manufacturing of essential resources and the evolution of testing
The status of COVID-19 spread in Canada
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are over 900 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 12 deaths. Close to 66,000 people have been tested, with over 10,000 individual tests conducted since yesterday. Dr. Tam added that one of the biggest concerns is the virus being introduced in high-risk areas, like longterm care homes.
“A single case in these settings can quickly result in an outbreak and accelerate the rate of spread,” she said. “We must protect these settings at all costs.”
In terms of flattening the curve, Dr. Tam indicated that we want to do so in order to increase time for research on COVID-19 to proceed.
“It’s still too soon to know how COVID-19 will develop over the next months,” she said. “We don’t just need to flatten the curve…we need to plank it and Canadians are listening.”
How are we testing for COVID-19 in Canada?
Dr. Tam reiterated that people who are asymptomatic do not need to be tested for COVID-19.
“We can appreciate that many people have mild symptoms,” she said. “Of all the mildly symptomatic people, you need to be able to prioritize the key people who really need to be tested.”
Examples of these people are symptomatic healthcare workers, hospitalized people and individuals in more remote communities.
“That’s where you’re going to be able to detect if you have cases not related to travel,” Dr. Tam said.
She added that Canada is also reviewing the testing strategy to determine when people who are in quarantine for 14 days will be able to go outside.
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said that Canada is searching for the same answers to COVID-19 as the rest of the world. She added that Canada is preparing the population for a potential surge, reviewing the science and the evidence to see how we get out of this situation.
“Social distancing is the best thing we have so far but there is a ton of work happening…to figure out [strategies],” Hajdu said. “Where is the fire burning and where are the sparks going.”
When asked about what the ventilator supply is in Canada, Hajdu said we don’t have that level of precision yet.
“This is a complicated question with a complicated answer,” she said.
Dr. Tam added that the government anticipated there would be a need for more ventilators and went ahead as an anticipatory measure to order an additional 550.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said we have over 11 million N95 masks, more than the 7.3 million requested by the provinces.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, provided more details on Canada’s plan to mobilize industry to combat COVID-19.
“We’re putting the full weight of the federal government behind this plan,” Bains said, adding that funds will be provided to companies at an accelerated basis to help shift their manufacturing focus and increase their production capacity.
A portal will be available on the government department’s website in order for companies to communicate what they are able to manufacture and how they can help.
An example of Canadian businesses that have been in contact with the federal government is Spartan Bioscience in Ottawa, which produces a portable diagnostic device to provide rapid results for COVID-19. This could be used in airports and clinics, and could potentially read test results in 30 minutes.
Anand added that her department is using a “all hands on deck” approach “to support a whole of government response” to COVID-19.
They published a call to action for suppliers last Thursday for businesses to provide information on their good and services, including the quantity they have in stock.
“Our goal is to be overprepared,” Anand said. “We know that the global demand for these products will continue...the situation will continue to evolve and we will adapt to it.”
11:30 a.m.: Canada-U.S. returning irregular migrants
Border restrictions, asylum seekers, and bringing Canadians home
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that in addition to closing the Canada-U.S. border for recreational travel, which will go into effect at midnight, the two countries have come to a “reciprocal arrangement” to temporarily return migrants attempting to cross at any irregular point of entry along the Canada-U.S. border.
“They are, for the most part, people who are legally in the United States,” Trudeau said. “We have also ensured that we are comfortable with this process.”
He added that people who came in earlier this week are already in isolation but the government has been working with U.S. counterparts to manage these individuals differently.
Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair added that these measures are now in place as part of a more broad measure to restrict non-essential travellers.
“There will be necessary and limited exceptions put in place…we are taking this measure to maintain safety and order at our border,” Blair said. “These measures will only be in place temporarily, as long as these non-essential measures are in place.”
Blair indicated that an example of exceptions would be an unaccompanied minor.
The prime minister added that the government continues to coordinate with airlines to get Canadians abroad back home, with the first flight picking up Canadians from Morocco this weekend.
Canadians already applying for benefits
Trudeau revealed that there have been about 500,000 applications to Service Canada and other government agencies this week for assistance like EI. He added that “people are anxious to get the help they deserve” and it’s “putting a lot of pressure on our system” but the government is “on it.”
“We have to do the right thing…to protect our nurses, doctor and everyone who works in our healthcare system,” the prime minister said.
“We are seeing Canadians right across the country take on…measures that are protecting citizens. We will continue to work to encourage people to stay home.”
Industries to make a shift
Trudeau added that the government will implement a new strategy to “make it easier” for Canadian manufacturing companies to retool their facilities to produce essential COVID-19 resources like ventilators, masks and hand sanitizer.
When asked if these manufacturers will be able to keep up with the demand across the country, the prime minister didn’t give a concrete answer but said “Canadian companies are among the most innovative and agile in the world” and he is confident the government will be able to work with them to meet demands.
10:30 a.m.: Canadian in Japan dies from COVID-19
It has been revealed that a Canadian in Japan has died from complications related to COVID-19 after being a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Deeply saddened to learn of the death of a Canadian in Japan from complications related to #COVID19. Our deepest condolences to the family, to whom we are providing consular assistance during this difficult time.
— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) March 20, 2020
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne offered his condolences to the family but the identity of the individual has not been revealed.
This is the first COVID-19 death of a Canadian abroad.
2:00 p.m.: Provinces continue to confirm positive COVID-19 cases
The second COVID-19 related death has been confirmed in Ontario, a man in his 50s with an “underlying health condition” from the Halton Region.
“This is the tragic proof that we need to work together as a community to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and taking action to protect yourself and those around you,” Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health said in a statement. “This is a larger community issue and I know that everyone joins me in extending their deepest condolences to his family at this time.”
Earlier in the day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford that he will temporarily allowing retail stores, like grocery, to receive deliveries 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People in Ontario can temporarily use expired documents for driver's licences, licence plate stickers and health cards.
Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott said the province has added an additional 1,300 lines TeleHealth lines.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirmed that the province has tested 12,421 negative cases at this point with over 3,900 cases still under investigation. A total of 80 per cent of the cases in the province travelled within the 14 days before being symptomatic.
The province of New Brunswick has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. There are currently seven confirmed cases in the province.
All retail stores, except for grocery, pharmacies, gas stations, alcohol and cannabis stores, must close. Public and private schools, universities and colleges, will remain closed until further notice.
This is a full list of all the emergency alerts across the country.
12:00 p.m.: Support for Canadians, including Indigenous communities
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland expects the restriction on non-essential travel through Canada-U.S. border to be implemented by Saturday, but urged people to not cross for recreational reasons before that time.
She added that the federal government will ensure that all refugees crossing into Canada at Roxham Road will be temporarily housed to make sure that they are self-isolating for 14 days. This will begin on Friday.
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are 772 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and more than 55,000 tests have been done across the country. She added that provinces reporting cases of community transmission, with no direct link to travel, is of particular concern.
“We don’t just need to flatten the curve; we need to plank it,” Dr. Tam said.
Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miler indicated that the government is working “directly” with Indigenous communities in Canada during the COVID-19 outbreak, 87 per cent of which have pandemic plans in place.
“Our goal is to make sure that essential services are available to all people in Canada,” Miller said, adding that these communities are known for being more vulnerable due to overcrowding, burden of chronic disease and from being in more remote areas.
He added that these communities should work with their primary health provider, which is the province, but should contact Indigenous Services directly if they are not getting the resources they need.
11:00 a.m.: Canada-U.S. border expected to close on Friday night
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada is still finalizing the details of closing the border with the U.S. for non-essential travel, but it’s expected to be implemented Friday night.
Trudeau continued to say that he is working with WestJet and Air Canada to help facilitate getting Canadians home as quickly as possible.
“We’re focused on bringing Canadians home…we recognize that this is a very difficult situation,” the prime minister said. “We’re just going to be here for each other.”
The Government has also aligned with telecommunications companies across the country to get the message across to travellers who are still abroad. The following message is being sent to Canadians, with the hope that it will cut through any phishing messages and spam that are abundant during the COVID-19 crisis.
A number of telecommunications service providers have agreed to a Government of Canada request to send text messages containing contact information for Global Affairs Canada consular support to devices belonging to Canadians living or travelling abroad. https://t.co/ALBLkuzODd pic.twitter.com/QpqVeze3jf
— Navdeep Bains (@NavdeepSBains) March 18, 2020
How much longer do we stay inside?
When asked about how long these social distancing measures will be in place, Trudeau said Canada is “going to continue to follow the best recommendations of experts” but he has heard anything from weeks to months in terms of how long these measure will be in place in the country.
The prime minister added that the country still needs blood donors during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged Canadians to book an appointment to donate blood.
6:00 p.m.: Provinces in various states of emergency over COVID-19 outbreak
B.C. has declared a state of emergency, this comes after a decision for a public health emergency was made across the province.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said B.C. will take an “all hands on deck approach” to the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision “will give addition powers” to backup the work that is being done in B.C.
The province announced that they have 45 additional cases of COVID-19 with 13 people now in hospital, seven in intensive care. This brings the total in the province to 231.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it is “critical” that the province “slow the curve” of the virus’ transmission over the following days.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he is “very pleased” with the additional funding the federal government announced to assist Canadians and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“That will keep money in people’s pockets and in the economy,” Ford said.
He added that he has spoken to Sysco Canada about altering their deliveries to make sure that there is food on grocery store shelves and in shelters. He also confirmed that automotive part manufacturers have offered to alter their production to make additional health equipment.
“This is the heart of the Ontario spirit,” the premier said. “These companies are putting the people of Ontario first.”
Finance Minister of Ontario Rod Phillips said the province’s financial priority is to make sure there is support for the healthcare system, and is working with the federal government to align support for individuals and businesses, like the moratorium on student loans.
In terms of construction and other job sites that are still open across the province, Ford said these sites will remain open but the government has consulted with “every labour organization in the province” and they have made a guarantee to close job sites if necessary.
Ford added that due to people who continue to panic buy in Ontario, it may be time to “limit certain buys” of items that continue to be hoarded by people in the province.
Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott confirmed that the province added 300 tele-health lines Wednesday morning after people in Ontario have been subject to long wait times to get through.
In terms of testing, Elliott said the government is trying to move towards a 24 to 48-hour wait time for results.
“We do have about 2,000 tests that are still pending, we’re working through those as quickly as possible,” the minister of health said. “Four days is too long.”
She also clarified that Ontario healthcare and frontline workers returning home from travel must self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are asymptomatic.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie declared a public health state of emergency amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was also indicated that gatherings of 50 people or more are not permitted and restaurants can operate with 50 per cent of the occupancy, but public spaces like gyms, theatres and arenas must close.
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I.’s government has decided to close liquor and cannabis stores in the province as of Thursday at 2:00 p.m. local time.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said these stores must shutdown during the COVID-19 outbreak as they are not essential services. All non-essential businesses in the province are closed until further notice.
Saskatchewan has declared of emergency after the number of cases in the province doubled.
Public gatherings of more than 50 people cannot occur and restaurants must keep their occupancy at 50 per cent of 50 people, whatever is lower.
All establishments in Saskatchewan must “ensure social distance of one to two metres between customers.” But grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are exempt from that rule.
There are currently 16 reported cases in the province.
With 153 negative tests, and over 100 test pending, the Northwest Territories has declared a public health emergency.
There are still no positive cases in the territory but official have said that COVID-19 is “inevitable.”
Nunavut has also declared a state of public health emergency. There are currently no known cases in the territory.
Officials have asked anyone who has returned from outside the territory to self-isolate for 14 days.
Family members should also self-monitor for any possible symptoms.
1:00 p.m.: ‘Let’s take care of ourselves and each other’
Following the announcement of the restriction of non-essential travel at the Canda-U.S. border, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland reinforced that all recreational travel will not be permitted.
“Travellers will not longer be able to cross the border for recreation or tourism,” Freeland said.
“Essential travel will continue unimpeded. It is critical for us to preserve supply chains...ensure that food, fuel and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.”
Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair echoed Freeland’s statements, adding that essential workers, including people who work in hospitals, provide essential services, will be allowed to enter the country.
In terms of when this restriction will be enforced, the deputy prime minister said “the decision has [been] taken” and Canada is “still working very energetically with our American colleagues to determine the precise moment that will be enforced.” She added that it has been proposed that these temporary measures will be effective for 30 days and will be reassessed at that time.
She added that for anyone still planning to cross the border, both Canadians Americans, “please don’t do it, it’s not good for you, it’s not good for your neighbours.”
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that Canada has tested over 50,000 people for COVID-19, resulting in 590 positive cases and nine deaths in the country. Canada has secured 800,000 swabs for testing but said “we shouldn’t waste things” and we should be aware that there is global demand for these supplies. Dr. Tam said we have be able to meet about 75 per cent of the requested amounts across Canada.
“We need to keep getting more on an ongoing basis,” she said.
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu added that we also need to work to accelerate our work on a vaccine to stop the continued spread of the virus.
10:30 a.m.: $82 billion in COVID-19 support for Canadians
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $82 billion in funds to help support Canadians during the COVID-19 outbreak, this includes $27 billion in direct support to workers and businesses, and $55 billion to meet liquidity needs through tax deferrals. This represents more than three-per cent of Canada’s GDP.
“This is a time where you should be focused your health and that of your neighbours,” Trudeau said. “Not whether you’re going to lose your job.”
“In these extraordinary times, our government is taking extraordinary measures,” the prime minister added.
An emergency care benefit that will provide money every two weeks to workers who have to stay home, to self-isolate, quarantine or have to take care of a family member who has COVID-19, and are not eligible for EI. It will continue for up to 15 weeks and individuals can receive $450 every two weeks.
A COVID-19 emergency support benefit for the self-employed who have to close shop or people who don’t qualify for EI. The government has set aside $5 billion for this and it will total 14 weeks of support, in a value comparable to EI.
Temporary wage subsidy to small businesses equal to 10 per cent of salary for three months, to urge companies to keep staff on the payroll and protect jobs. Up to an amount of $25,000.
Any money owed for the 2019 tax year do not have to be paid until September 1, 2020, with the filing deadline pushed back to June 1.
Boost the child care benefit (CCB) in the coming months to help parents during the virus outbreak, totalling a $2 billion commitment.
For lower income families, supplement the GST credit in May to offset the consumer tax that they pay. $300 over individuals and $150 for every child.
A six month interest free moratorium on student loans.
Double the reaching home program and boost funding for shelters. Totalling over $200 million in support.
When asked about how these new measures will impact Canada’s economy overall, Trudeau is confident that Canada will “be able to ensure that our economy gets up to speed.”
“We are focused in making sure that people who are not getting income…have the money to pay for groceries, to pay their rent,” the prime minister said. “The fundamentals of the Canadian economy are strong.”
“Our government is willing to do whatever it takes to keep our economy strong and stable,” Canada's Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said.
10:00 a.m.: Canada-U.S. border closed for non-essential travel
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the country’s border with Canada will be “temporarily closing.”
We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
Trump indicated that this impacts non-essential travel but not trade between the two countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Trump’s tweet, saying that “both Canada and United States will both temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border.”
This restriction is for all recreation and tourism across the border.
“Essential travel will continue,” the prime minister said, adding that it is “critical” to preserve supply chains between both countries.
“Food, fuel and life saving medicines reach people across both side of the border,” Trudeau said.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland urged Americans to not come to Canada for any reason that is not absolutely essential.
“Now is not the time...for our American friends to be coming just for a visit,” Freeland said, adding that Canadians should also not be travelling outside the country for any non-essential reasons.
Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu jumped in during the afternoon press conference to say that non-essential travel includes picking up cigarette and alcohol, grocery shopping and picking up packages on the other side of the border.
6:00 p.m.: Provinces take additional measures
The government of B.C. has declared a public health emergency as three deaths and 83 new cases have been confirmed in the province.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said two of the fatalities are connected to the same North Vancouver longterm care home where B.C.’s four previous deaths were recorded. The third death was a man in his 80s form the Fraser Health region.
People who over the age of 80 are the most vulnerable, Dr. Henry confirmed, but so are people with diabetes, chronic heart disease and chronic lung disease.
“It’s not across the board,” Dr. Henry said. “The risk increases after age 60 and 65…but it varies by person.”
All schools are suspended until further notice, every student is eligible to graduate this year will, and grade 10 and 11 graduation assessments will be postponed. The province has not cancelled childcare services.
When asked about whether the province will move to suspend evictions to individuals and businesses in B.C. who need to pay rent during the COVID-19 outbreak, Premier John Horgan said it is “one of the many issues we have on our plate at the present time.”
The province of Alberta has now declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak, following a similar decision made in Ontario earlier in the day.
Any public events with more than 50 people must be cancelled at this time. Restaurants and coffee shops can stay open as long there are no more than 50 people in the establishment at the same time, or 50 per cent of their capacity, whichever is lower.
At the same time, Ontario provided an update on what the province is doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, confirmed that there are 186 cases in Ontario and one death, a 77-year-old man from Muskoka.
A total of 92 per cent of the cases are related to travel or close contact with someone who has travelled within 14 days of the symptoms appearing. Of the cases in the province, 29 per cent of the individuals travelled to the U.S., with the most popular states being: New York, Colorado, California, Florida, Nevada and Massachusetts.
Ontario is able to test 2,000 people a day and is hoping to increase that number to 5,000. Ontario has tested over 9,400 people who are negative.
When asked about what exactly the requirement is to be tested in Ontario Dr. Yaffe confirmed that symptoms do need to be present.
12:30 p.m.: ‘Now is not the time...for our American friends to be coming...’
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland urged Americans to not come to Canada for any reason that is not absolutely essential.
“Now is not the time...for our American friends to be coming just for a visit,” Freeland said, adding that Canadians should also not be travelling outside the country for any non-essential reasons.
When pressed about why the Canadian border remains open for people in the U.S. Freeland said, echoing her statements from Monday, that the openness of the border is a “lifeline” for people on both sides. With groceries, medicines and other goods travelling freely between nations, the closure could lead to immediate impact on the supply chain.
“Essential workers go back and forth across that border everyday,” she said.
Freeland added that the government is aware that the situation in B.C. is “particularly acute” but added that “nothing is off the table” and conversations are ongoing.
“We are very urgently reviewing the situation, in close collaboration with our southern neighbours,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu jumped in during the afternoon press conference to say that non-essential travel includes picking up cigarette and alcohol, grocery shopping and picking up packages on the other side of the border.
11:30 a.m.: Justin Trudeau still urges Canadians to stay at home
On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Ontario is “taking the right steps” to protect people in the province by its recent declaration of a state of emergency.
“National coordination and local action that makes sense,” Trudeau said.
He added that it continues to be imperative for Canadians to stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing.
“As much as possible, stay home. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to…let the kids run around bit in the house,” Trudeau said. “Things will get better.”
The prime minister announced that Parks Canada will suspend visitor services and reinforced Monday’s announcement that an emergency loan of up to $5,000 is available for Canadians who quickly need money to come home, or need funds during their wait to return to Canada. Trudeau did say that at any point in time there are approximately three million Canadians living and working abroad, and it’s “realistic” to say that they all may not get home.
In terms of the open border Canada will maintain with the U.S., the prime minister said the government is still “coordinating” with Americans, as the two countries are highly integrated.
“We’ll do everything to keep Canadians safe,” he said, adding that the government will do so without limiting essential goods and merchandise.
In terms of Canadians coming home, Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair confirmed that all Canadians can come home, and there will be border officers on the ground to assist with processing travellers.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said if a Canadians is symptomatic, they will not be able to board the plane back to Canada but the government is speaking with airlines to repatriate people who are stuck abroad.
Trudeau’s government is expected to make an announcement tomorrow regarding economic actions during the COVID-19 outbreak and changes to the tax system. There is also a plan to recall parliament to pass legislation around EI and around “a number of methods to get more into the pockets of Canadians.”
The government is separately looking into the Emergency Measures Act to see if there are “other ways to take the actions needed to support people.”
“The bottom line is this. Each one of us can make chances that help the people around us,” Trudeau said. “We can make choices that will change lives. If we act now…things will be better tomorrow.”
Following his statement Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu made an emotional plea, holding back tears, for Canadians to work together to check on people who are scared and vulnerable.
“Together as Canadians we will get though this,” Hajdu said.
When asked about how long this will last, Trudeau confirmed that we don’t know how long these measures will be in place for Canadians.
“We don’t know how long this is going to take, whether it will be weeks or months,” the prime minister said.
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are over 440 cases in Canada and three cases in Ontario have no link to travel outside of Canada, and are being investigated as community transmission cases. A total of 37,000 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 to date.
She added that Canadians are still urged to donate blood during this time.
8:30 a.m.: Ontario declares a state of emergency
On Tuesday morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province.
“This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Ford said. “This is not a provincial shutdown.”
The premier said this includes, until Mar. 31, the prohibition of organized public events of over 50 people. In addition to the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, public libraries, private schools, childcare centres, theatres and restaurants (except takeout services), effective immediately.
“The vast majority of businesses…will not be effected by this order,” Ford said. “It’s critical we keep our supply chain going.”
Malls in the province are not closed, at this time.
The premier also formally announced the “first stage” of the province’s COVID-19 $300 million emergency relief package. This includes opening more coronavirus assessment centres and purchasing more personal protective equipment for nurses, doctors and personal support workers, as well a more ventilators.
“This is changing hour by hour, day by day, and we’re getting ahead of the curve and we’re…slowing down the spread,” Ford said. “When we do this, we can put more resources to our healthcare system.”
Chief Medical Officer of Ontario Dr. David Williams said he is “confident” that a provincial lockdown is not needed at this time.
“When you add social distancing protocols…the key thing is public participation. I think we have that in Ontario,” Dr. Williams said. “I have confidence we don’t need those kind of aspects.”
A state of emergency can be declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Among the orders it enables the premier to make, it allows the premier to close any places, “whether public or private, including any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution.”
Premier Doug Ford also mentioned that the new state of emergency would allow him to infuse more health care support into the system for the duration of the crisis.
4:00 p.m.: No gatherings over 50 in Ontario
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said people in the province should avoid gatherings of over 50 people or more to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Williams added that community transmission can’t be ruled out, recommending the closure of all recreational programs, libraries, schools, including private schools, day care centres, churches and other faith setting. In addition to all bars and restaurants stopping dine-in business, moving to takeout and delivery food services only.
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is also urging nightclubs, concert venues, bars and restaurants in the city to close.
“I recommend that bars and restaurants stop in-person, dine-in service and move exclusively to take-out and delivery service as soon as possible and no later than midnight tonight,” Dr. de Villa said in a press conference on Monday. “In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, I am also strongly recommending that all night clubs, movie theatres and concert venues call as soon as possible.”
She added that businesses who do not follow their recommendations “may be subject to orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.”
3:00 p.m.: ‘Critical’ period for Canada
Following the announcement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest border measures for Canada, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam addressed Canadians with her response to the latest precautions in the country.
“Border measures are never perfect…I do think that putting gate measure of asking people to self-isolation when they arrive in Canada is a really important aspect of the public health response,” Dr. Tam said.
She added that Canada is in the “upward ticking of the epidemic curve” and that this is a “critical period” for the country to try to level off that curve “as fast as possible.”
“Very careful monitoring for the next two weeks is very critical,” Dr. Tam said, adding that she is most interested in looking at signs of bigger clusters, outbreak and community transmission.
“For sure you need to listen to your local public health because the activities for COVID-19…are actually quite different across Canada. The message really is about social distancing.”
1:30 p.m.: Trudeau closes Canada’s borders
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that the country is now denying entry to Canada to people who are not citizens or permanent resident. There will be exemptions for “essential workers” including air crews, immediate family members of citizens, diplomats and for now, American citizens, and is effective on Mar. 18 at noon.
Trudeau said these new measures are “increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe.”
When asked about why U.S. citizens are exempt from the border closure, the prime minister said the level of integration of the two countries is “particular” and “requires a level of coordination.”
“We are coordinating very carefully with the Americans,” Trudeau said.
Following the prime minister’s announcement, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland said our border with the U.S. is “absolutely vital to the people who live on both sides of that border” and “a lifeline for both of our countries.”
Only four airports in Canada will be accepting passengers: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary.
“If you are abroad, it is time for you to come home,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister added that air operators are being directed to block all passengers with COVID-19 symptoms from boarding an aircraft to Canada and conduct a “basic health assessment of all travellers.”
“Anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada,” he said. “Our government will provide a support program for people who need to get on a plane.”
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said that “there will be some assistance” from a consular perspective for Canadians who cannot come home because they are COVID-19 symptomatic, in addition to financial assistance.
Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said all travellers to Canada will be asked if they currently have a cough, difficulty breathing or feel they have a fever. They will also be asked to acknowledge that they are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days and will receive a handout with isolation information, and information on contacting public health authorities.
Trudeau also reinforced that any Canadians coming home need to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive. When ask how the government will ensure that these travellers will in fact self-isolate, he did not give a direct answer but recognized that we would need “enforcement measures around that” and that Canadians “want to keep themselves safe.”
“If we put in measures for mandatory self-isolation…there would need to be enforcement measures around that,” the prime minister said. “We know that at this point the expectation that people self-isolate is something that we’ve asked of Canadian around the country.
These new measure do not include commerce and trade.
“The intent now is to contain the cases as rapidly as possible and slow that spread,” Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health said, adding that Canadians should reconsider gatherings of more than 50 people.
12:00 p.m.: Ontario announces new measures to protect workers
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday the provincial government is drafting legislation to “protect workers and families.”
“If you are in quarantine or asked to self-isolate, you will not lose your job,” Ford said at a press conference, indicating that this also includes people in Ontario who need to stay home to take care of children or other family members during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The premier added that the province will remove the requirement to present a doctor’s note to your employer if you are in isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms.
“No one should lose their job because they listen to the best advice from medical professionals,” Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour said.
When asked if the government “regrets” implementing that requirement in 2018, Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott said it has “always been an option for employers” but now “it’s widespread knowledge.”
These amendments to the Employment Standards Act will be retroactive to Jan. 25, when the first presumptive coronavirus case in Ontario was confirmed.
Premier Ford added that he has concerns about the border, indicating that “we need the federal government to tighten up the border.”
“I’d be ok with closing the border to visitors, not to trading commerce,” the premier said. “At least give a day or couple days notice to people outside the country.”
Ford added that there have not been any conversations about stopping interprovincial travel at this time.
“That hasn’t come up right now,” he said.
In terms of testing, the provincial government stressed that individuals should only get tested if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Ontario has created an online assessment tool that can be used as a first step for anyone who believes they may be showing symptoms of the virus.
“Please use this tool to determine if you need to seek care,” Ford said.
For anyone concerned about being able to access essential supplies in stores across Ontario, the premier said the supply chain in the province is able to handle the needs of the people in the province.
“There’s no need to rush out to store sand to panic buy and hoard essential items that we will need,” Ford said. “There’s plenty of toilet paper.”
When asked about implementing any additional measures across the province, including closing bars and restaurants, provincial officials indicated that “everything is on the table” but many additional precautions related to COVID-19 will come from the recommendations of Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario. That being said, Elliott said people in Ontario should be “cautious” about large gatherings.
“We would discourage people from going into large gatherings,” the minister of health said.
The Ontario government was supposed to release its provincial budget later this month. Instead, a “economic and fiscal update” will be presented on Mar. 25, which will be a one-year outlook “based on current economic projections” for the province.
10:15 a.m.: Calgary declares a state of local emergency
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has declared a state of local emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The decisions today were not taken lightly but they are important. I want to remind Calgarians that we need to look after one another. Clean hands, clear heads, open hearts,” a statement from Mayor Nenshi reads.
As of 12:01 a.m. local time, all city-operated services like recreation centres and arenas, in addition to partner operations like the YMCA and public library branches, are closed. This does not include grocery stores, airports, shopping centres, pharmacies and casinos at the moment.
“While it can seem extreme to have places we know and love closed down, this is in line with the actions that other regions who have had success containing COVID-19,” Tom Sampson, Director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.
“Strong measures now mean we get ahead of this before it becomes very problematic, like we have seen in other cities and countries.”
10:00 a.m.: CBSA officer tests positive for COVID-19
A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at Toronto Pearson airport has tested positive for COVID-19.
Ashley Lemire, a spokesperson for CBSA, told CBC News it is unclear when or where the employee contracted the virus but the individual is in isolation at home.
CBSA employees who may have been in contact with the individual have been asked to "self monitor for symptoms" and to contact public health for direction.
3:15 p.m.: Window to flatten the curve in Canada is ‘narrow’
On Sunday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, provided an update to the public on COVID-19. She confirmed that there are 313 cases of the virus across all provinces in Canada, with 25,000 individuals tested to date.
Dr. Tam added that all ages are at risk and Canadians need to take these risks seriously.
“Our window to flatten the curve of the epidemic is narrow. We all need to act now,” she said. “Today, I am asking everyone to take strong action to help us delay the spread of COVID-19 and protect as many people as possible.”
Dr. Tam said all Canadians returning to the country should self-isolate for 14 days.
“Prior to this, we have been telling people to self-monitor,” she said, adding that the government is “rapidly” trying to get that messaging out to travellers who arrive back to Canada as some “may not see that message as of yet.” This includes some travellers who claimed to only be asked whether they have been to Italy, Iran or the Hubei province of China. Additional messages are expected to be placed at Canadian points of entry.
“This is not essentially ordered, this is a voluntary self-isolation,” Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said. “This is a social phenomenon, this is a societal response and everyone must take that responsibility.”
When asked about closing Canada’s borders all together, she said the science has not pointed to that being the best solution to stop the chain of transmission of the virus, but we should be “prepared to detect rapidly” and trace contacts.
“Countries that enacted travel bans, for example, have not been able to keep out this particular virus,” Dr. Tam said.
The Chief Public Health Officer also said that all gatherings of 250 people or more should be avoided during this time, this includes Canadians asking their employer about a contingency to work from home.
“If you’re at high risk, practise social distancing, and separate yourself wherever and whenever you can,” she said. “This is our chance. Right here, right now.”
Dr. Tam added that the policies around testing could change but each province should have “flexibility.”
“Any outbreak that looks like…COVID-19-like symptoms, we don’t really regard if there is a travel history or not,” she said. “There must be a flexibility. The net has been cast wider than just travellers.”
“We do know that persons with symptoms are the most infectious. We are still testing for people who are COVID-19 positive with a negative test at the end, to determine if they still have a positive test detection.”
11:30 a.m.: Justin Trudeau says Canada is ‘not taking anything off the table’
In an exclusive interview with Evan Solomon, which aired on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said nothing is “off the table” when it comes to COVID-19 measures for the country.
Trudeau says the federal government is "not taking anything off the table" when it comes to additional measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Including shutting the border? That's being discussed at a rare Sunday cabinet meeting. #cdnpoli #ctvqp pic.twitter.com/LYmzePKvpg
— CTV QUESTION PERIOD (@ctvqp) March 15, 2020
The prime minister went on to say that Canada is preparing for “all scenarios” in the country, with contingency plans for low to maximum spread of the coronavirus in the country. In terms of people who are stockpiling goods in Canada, Trudeau said Canadians should “make sure you’re not taking more than you need” because it impacts the number of products others will have access to, including more vulnerable individuals.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his family is "doing fine," and that he and his three children have "absolutely no symptoms," though how is Sophie feeling? #cdnpoli #COVID19 #ctvqp
Read more: https://t.co/ntjq6fWVod pic.twitter.com/M4cu8RTjVu
— CTV QUESTION PERIOD (@ctvqp) March 15, 2020
Trudeau also added that he and his children are all “symptom free” and said Sophie Grégoire Trudeau mostly just has a headache right now and is feeling “feeling a little under the weather.” The prime minister has still be advised to not get tested for COVID-19, as long as he is not showing any symptoms.
4:30 p.m.: Ontario warns of limited number of nasal swabs for testing
Public Heath Ontario is alerting people in the province that due to the global demand for nasal swabs to test for COVID-19, the province is “limiting” its supply.
“There is in an increased global demand for viral nasopharyngeal swabs due to COVID-19. In an effort to ensure swabs are available where most needed, the Public Health Laboratory is limiting the volume of swabs supplied. We are also validating other swab types and will provide an update when available. Please be assured we are working diligently to address this issue. Please monitor your inventory closely and reorder only as required.
Public Health Ontario is not currently recommending routine testing of asymptomatic persons for COVID-19.
3:00 p.m. Candidate vaccine developed in Canada
Quebec company Medicago has developed a candidate vaccine that could be used for COVID-19. It uses "virus-like particles" that can allow the human body to produce antibodies to fight against the illness.
“The ability to produce a candidate vaccine within 20 days after obtaining the gene is a critical differentiator for our proven technology,” Dr Bruce Clark, CEO of Medicago said. “This technology enables scale-up at unprecedented speed to potentially combat COVID-19.”
Back in 2015, Medicago also showed that the company could quickly produce an antiEbola monoclonal antibody cocktail for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Earlier this week, a team of researchers from Sunnybrook, McMaster University and the University of Toronto isolated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak.
2:00 p.m.: Canadians abroad urged to come quickly, exodus from Europe
Several Canadian travellers in Europe are trying to get home as quickly as possible, before any additional borders shut down.
The government has recommended that any Canadians outside of the country should “consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.”
OFFICIAL ADVICE TO CANADIANS ABROAD:
We recommend that Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available. pic.twitter.com/f8DC5goS3n
— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) March 14, 2020
The official travel advisory note from Government of Canada reads:
If you are outside of Canada:
Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.
Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.
According to The Canadian Press, Canadians in the Polish city of Poznan say they've been told the one last flight from Warsaw to Toronto is full. Global Affairs Canada told these individuals that at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, that country's borders would be closed to all foreigners who do not legally reside in Poland.
1:00 p.m.: Quebec urges seniors to stay in their homes
Quebec Premier François Legault is urging everyone over the age of 70 to not leave their homes.
“We should do everyone we can to protect older people,” Legault said Saturday in Quebec City.
He has also banned all visits to public senior homes and hospitals.
9:00 a.m.: Apple closes all stores in Canada
Tech giant Apple is closing its stores outside of China for two weeks and will only sell online as part of efforts to fight the global viral pandemic.
“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” CEO Tim Cook tweeted Saturday. “Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery."
In a lengthier online statement, Cook said that Apple’s stores in China have all now reopened and what the company has learned helped it develop “best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response.”
7:00 p.m.: B.C. and Sask. ban gatherings of more than 250 people
While announcing 11 new cases of COVID-19, B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she's making a mandatory order to ban gatherings of more than 250 people.
Her previous recommendation to cancel gatherings has been upgraded to a mandatory order. She also clarified her recommendation to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.
Sask.’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said that starting Monday, there will be no public gatherings allowed of more than 250 people in the same room and no events of more than 50 people with anyone who has travelled internationally in the past 14 days.
“While these are significant steps that will help limit the transmission of COVID-19, most important is the responsibility that we all have to ensure that we do what we can to reduce the risk to ourselves, reduce the risk to our families and reduce the risk to our communities,” Sask. Premier Scott Moe added.
5:30 p.m.: Toronto mayor in self-isolation
Toronto Mayor John Tory will be in self-isolation for the next 12 days after returning to the city from a business trip in the U.K.
BREAKING: Statement from Mayor Tory’s office. Mayor Tory is going into self isolation after returning from London recently. pic.twitter.com/jD1cFgwMFQ
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) March 13, 2020
The mayor indication that he is not showing any symptoms at this point, but was advised to isolation by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa after his travel.
As of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, the City of Toronto will shut down services like public libraries, museums and licensed daycares, community and recreation centres and city-operated March break camps, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The closures will be in place until Apr. 5.
It will not impact TTC services in the city.
2:30 p.m.: $10 billion credit support program, interest rate cut
On Friday afternoon, Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced that the government will be establishing a $10 billion credit support program, to be shared in more detail next week.
“We are establishing our credit facility program to support our businesses and the stimulate the economy.” Morneau said. “We want to protect Canadians, therefore it’s very important to support our businesses.”
In a coordinated announcement with Stephen Poloz, Bank of Canada Governor, the Canadian Superintendent of Financial Institutions Jeremy Rudin and the Finance Minister, the Bank of Canada has cut its benchmark overnight interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent in response to virus outbreak.
12:00 p.m.: Canadians told to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country
The government is now officially telling Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country. Anyone who has travelled to the country from outside of Canada has also been asked to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus.
Earlier this week, Yahoo Canada asked readers what the think of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The majority of respondent, 69 per cent, held the belief that the government needed to do more to prevent the spread of the virus.
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said that Canadians should avoid international travel because “the spread of the illness is quite extensive around the globe” and the fact that “we don’t know what is happening in terms of other people’s measures” around the globe, which would leave people from Canada stuck internationally for an extended period of time
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said that the number of international flights coming into Canada will come through a limited number of airports, with more specifics to be released to the public shortly.
Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said anyone who travels to Canada can expect to be “subject to significantly enhanced screening.”
Cruise ships with more than 500 passengers will also not be allowed to dock at any Canadian port until July 1.
When asked about the possibility of banning travel from any particular countries Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is not ruling out any possible steps but indicated that all decisions will be made “based on recommendations of experts.” He added that he has been in communication with the U.S. to align efforts and “keep people safe.”
“The relationship is going to be critically important so we can continue that work together,” Hajdu said following the prime minister’s statement. “Those conversations as a continent are going to be what keep us safe.”
“Viruses don’t know borders. Borders won’t contain the virus.”
In terms of travel between provinces and cities, Trudeau indicated that Canadians should make “responsible decisions” that make sense for them.
“People need to make responsible decisions and check with their medical professionals,” he said. “I know that ands will listen to the advice of experts and make decisions the are appropriate for them and for their families.”
The prime minister said the federal government will be aligning its response to the coronavirus outbreak across the country, including working with all provincial leaders.
He added that Canada is in the “enviable position of having significant fiscal firepower to support you.” Trudeau said a fiscal stimulus package will be implemented “in the days to come.”
“We are obviously focused primarily on how we are going to get money into the pockets of Canadians who will need it,” Trudeau said. “Our focus right now is ensure that Canadians have the resources and the money to not have to stress about rent and about grocery and about child care and about elder care.”
The prime minister also provided an update on his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He said her symptoms remain mild, but she is “following medical advice” and will remain in isolation “for the time being.”
“I have no symptoms and I’m feeling good,” the prime minister said, but he will remain in self-isolation for 14 days.
“It was explained to me that as long as I do not show any symptoms at all, there is no value in having me tested,” he added.
Howard Njoo, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer explained that social distancing should be maintained - a two-arm length, not within hugging distance.
“I think common sense for any people, the types of small parities people will have, if you just maintain that as a general rule...I think would be a good way to go forward,” he said.
11:30 a.m.: Quebec schools close
All school CEGEPS and universities in Quebec will be closed for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
On Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault issued a directive that no indoor gatherings of 250 people or more can be held in the province.
To date, there have been 17 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Quebec.
10:30 a.m.: Canadian Parliament suspended
All federal parties in Canada have agreed to suspend parliamentary activity following the coronavirus outbreak.
The House of Commons will adjourn Friday in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Parliament Hill. MPs will not return to the House of Commons until April 20. This move will also delay plans for the Liberal government to release its budget on Mar. 30.
House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said this “unprecedented” action does enable parliamentarians to come together sooner, even with a smaller group, to have any necessary emergency meetings.
“Have the means to spend money in emergencies,” Rodriguez said. “We need to be able to intervene in this delicate and difficult situation, and that is included also in the motion.”
The House Leader also says the government is recommending MPs avoid going to large events during this time.
11:00 p.m.: Canadian researchers isolate the COVID-19 virus
A team of researchers from Sunnybrook, McMaster University and the University of Toronto has isolated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak.
“While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus,” Dr. Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook, said in a statement.
Researchers from @Sunnybrook, @UofT and @McMasterU have isolated SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes #COVID19.
The isolated virus will help researchers across the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines: https://t.co/sK8OCpQ2NM
— Andy Smith (@DoctorAndySmith) March 12, 2020
According to the statement from Sunnybrook, the isolated virus helps researchers globally develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines, and gain a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 biology, evolution and clinical shedding.
“Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” Dr. Arinjay Banerjee, NSERC post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University said.
10:00 p.m.: PM’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau tests positive for COVID-19
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The family is feeling well, and will be self-isolating according to the advice of medical doctors.
"She is feeling well, is taking all the recommended precautions and her symptoms remain mild," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
“Although I’m experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon,” the statment from Grégoire Trudeau said.
Earlier Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau had recently begun “exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms including a low fever late last night” after coming home from a ‘We Day’ speaking engagement in the U.K.
The Prime Minister is in good health and will not be currently tested as he is not exhibiting any symptoms. He will be isolated for a planned period of 14 days.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has tested positive for the coronavirus. She and the Prime Minister will be self-isolating for 14 days. pic.twitter.com/Eh73CupIIX
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 13, 2020
4:30 p.m.: Ontario public schools to remain closed after March break
The Ontario government has announced that public schools across the province will be closed for two week following March break because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020,” the statement reads. “We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe.”
Surge of coronavirus cases in Ontario
On Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases in Ontario rose to 59, with 17 new cases being confirmed.
A young child, under the age of one, is among the new cases after being taken to Toronto North York General Hospital. It’s believed he contracted the disease through being in close contact to a victims of the virus.
Among the 17 people in self-isolation, 13 people had recent travel histories, including travel to Italy, the U.S. Spain and Puerto Rico. Puerto.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the province is making a $100 million commitment in the 2020 budget to combat the novel coronavirus.
“I want to assure the people of Ontario that we will do whatever it takes but we also have to look to the longterm and how we can protect our healthcare system and our economy,” Ford said. “No province, no government can do it alone. We need to work together.”
Canada responds to U.S. travel ban
On Wednesday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended travel to countries in the European Union.
“After consulting with our top government health officials, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” U.S. President Donald Trump said during an address from the Oval Office. “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday night at midnight.”
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government was not given a heads-up on Trump’s travel restriction before it was publicly announced.
“I immediately got in touch with Kirsten Hillman, our outstanding acting ambassador to the United States and she has subsequently been in touch with our U.S. counterparts,” Freeland told CBC News. “This is absolutely something that we need to discuss with our friends and neighbours.”
She added that Canada is “constantly reviewing what is happening at Canada’s border,” but did not indicate that the government is planning on implementing a similar ban at the moment.
NHL suspends season
The NHL has suspended the 2019-20 hockey season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures,” the statement reads.
“However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time”
Trudeau family being monitored for COVID-19
On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau had recently began “exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms including a low fever late last night” after coming home from a speaking engagement in the U.K. She is being tested for the coronavirus.
I have some personal news to share today. Sophie recently returned from a speaking event in the UK, and last night she was experiencing mild flu-like symptoms. She‘s feeling better, but following the advice of our doctor she is self-isolating as we wait on COVID-19 test results.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 12, 2020
Although the prime minister is not experiencing any symptoms himself, he will remain in self-isolation while the family waits for the results. Trudeau has also postponed his meeting premiers and Indigenous leaders, scheduled to take place Thursday.
I was looking forward to sitting down with premiers and Indigenous leaders later today, but given the circumstances we‘ll be postponing our meeting. In the meantime, we‘ll speak on the phone about how we can mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19 and keep Canadians safe.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 12, 2020
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also took to social media to announced that he will be limiting his interaction with the public after “feeling unwell,” but according to his message, doctors do not believe he is a victim of COVID-19.
Friends, I am at home today, feeling unwell.
I have been in contact with a doctor and they do not believe I have symptoms consistent with COVID19. But their advice is for me to limit contact with the public until I am feeling better.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) March 12, 2020
While two cabinet ministers will also be staying at home due to possible coronavirus symptoms. Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan tweeted that he is being tested and staying home after having a “persistent cold,” while International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she was tested for COVID-19 after her asthma started acting up.
Stock market halted
Coronavirus concerns have sent stocks tumbling, triggering circuit breakers that brought trading on the TSX to a halt shortly after the open on Thursday. Canada’s main stock index opened down 7.5 per cent.
LEVEL 1 MARKET-WIDE CIRCUIT BREAKERS TRIGGERED: At the instruction of IIROC, TSX, TSXV and TSX Alpha have been halted due to the triggering of a level 1 market-wide circuit breaker. Markets are now in Pre-Open state and are set to resume trading at 09:51:00.
— TMX Group (@TMXGroup) March 12, 2020
“Normally prices adjust calmly and mildly to new information, as traders process and digest value-relevant information rationally and supply/demand imbalances are brief and mild,” Brian Madden, senior VP and portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel, told Yahoo Finance Canada.
“That is not the current reality. Traders are not processing information rationally. Supply/demand imbalances are large and price jumps are correspondingly large and the market is in a temporary state of panicky dis-equilibrium.”
Toronto Raptors quarantined
The Toronto Raptors told players to self-quarantine for 14 days after playing against the Utah Jazz on Monday. Jazz center Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Wednesday.
The Toronto Raptors have released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/pgDxATKpnt
— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) March 12, 2020
This case also prompted the NBA to suspend games until further notice.
“The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, the affected player was not in the arena,” the statement reads. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The latest on the pandemic
• According to tracking from Johns Hopkins on Sunday, there are more than 690,000 coronavirus cases and 32,000 deaths worldwide.
• The U.S. now leads the world with more than 120,000 confirmed cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections.
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharpened her criticism of President Trump, saying: "As the president fiddles, people are dying."
• On Saturday night, Trump backed off his quarantine suggestion for the hard-hit New York region, issuing a travel warning instead.
• Italy reported almost 900 new deaths, with the toll now crossing 10,000. Spain also reported more than 800 deaths in a 24-hour span.
• Worried you're experiencing coronavirus symptoms? Here's what the CDC says to do.
• Want some uplifting stories? Click here.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Sunday update
The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to COVID-19
From the New York Times:
The absence of robust screening until it was “far too late” revealed failures across government, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, a former CDC director. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said the Trump administration had “incredibly limited” views of the pathogen’s potential impact. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the lapse enabled “exponential growth of cases.”
Legislatures meet remotely, limit public as virus spreads
Members of the Arkansas House met in a college basketball arena, spaced out among 5,600 seats, as they voted on ways to cover a budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus punch to the economy.
When South Dakota lawmakers convene Monday to consider 10 emergency bills, it won't be inside their familiar chambers. Instead, they will be speaking and voting via a video call system.
This is not government as usual. Read more
Fauci says coronavirus deaths in U.S. could top 100,000
Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on CNN's “State of the Union” on Sunday, offered his prognosis as the federal government weighs rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been as hard-hit by the outbreak at the conclusion of the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus.
“I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. “We're going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don't want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”
Pelosi: Trump downplaying virus cost American lives
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNN Sunday morning that President Trump downplaying the virus cost American lives.
"His denial at the beginning was deadly," said Pelosi on "State of the Union." "His delaying of getting equipment – it continues — his delaying of getting equipment to where it is needed is deadly and now I think the best thing is to prevent more loss of life rather than open things up because we just don’t know. We have to have testing, testing, testing that’s what we said from the start before we can evaluate the nature of it is in some of these other regions as well. I don’t know what the purpose of that is. I don’t know what the scientists are saying to him. When did thep resident know about this and what did he know? What did he know and when did he know it? That’s for an after-action review, but as the president fiddles, people are drying, and we just have to take every precaution.”
“Are you saying his downplaying ultimately cost American lives?” asked host Jake Tapper.
“Yes, I am. I’m saying that," replied Pelosi. "The other day when he was signing the bill, he said ‘Just think 20 days ago everything was great.’ No, everything wasn’t great, we had nearly 500 cases and 17 deaths already and in that 20 days because we weren’t prepared we now have 2,000 deaths and 100,000 cases.”
While Trump has claimed recently he always took the virus seriously, he spent the end of January, all of February and early March downplaying the threat while the federal government was slow to mobilize a response.
UK government was warned its health service would struggle to cope with pandemic three years ago
The British government was warned three years ago that the NHS would struggle to cope in the event of a pandemic like coronavirus, it has been revealed.
A major cross-government test called Exercise Cygnus was carried out in October 2016 to examine how well the NHS would handle a severe outbreak.
After the damning test results were collected, ministers were reportedly warned that Britain’s health service would be quickly overwhelmed - but the government failed to act on the report’s recommendations. Read more
Cruise ship off Panama coast transfers passengers
A cruise ship carrying more than 1,800 people off Panama has begun moving healthy passengers to another ship after four people died and two others tested positive for coronavirus.
The owners of the Zaandam, Holland America, said that more than 130 people on board had reported suffering "flu-like symptoms" and respiratory issues.
The Dutch-owned operator said it was transferring asymptomatic people to a sister ship. Read more
The Zaandam. (AP)
Spain deaths rise by 838 to 6,528
The number of people to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus in Spain has risen to 6,528 after 838 more people died.
Another 6,549 cases have been reported in the country, bringing the total there to 78,797.
It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 3,965 to 52,547, a government federal agency has said in the country. Read more
Coronavirus patients in UK intensive care have 50% survival rate
The mortality rate for patients put in intensive care after being infected with Covid-19 is running at close to 50%, a report has revealed.
Data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) showed that of 165 patients treated in critical care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the end of February, 79 died, while 86 survived and were discharged.
The figures were taken from an audit of 775 people who have been or are in critical care with the disease, across 285 intensive care units. The remaining 610 patients continue to receive intensive care. Read more