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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Countries where lockdown restrictions have relaxed are reporting new peak infection rates.
  2. The federal government is investing millions to boost online health services and to support a Vancouver biological company’s research into treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
  3. Canadian universities work to mitigate financial threat posed by coronavirus
  4. An Ottawa biotech company is voluntarily recalling a rapid test for COVID-19 after Health Canada expressed concern about its effectiveness

In Canada, 59,366 cases have been reported, more than double the number from 18 days ago. There have also been 24,726 recoveries and 3,681 deaths. Health officials have administered 928,683 tests.

Worldwide, 3,482,221 cases have been confirmed; with 1,113,442 recoveries and 245,929 deaths.

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus explainers: Updates and essential resourcesCoronavirus in maps and chartsThe rules in each province


Protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions march past a police officer controlling traffic after holding a rally in Vancouver on Sunday.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press


Number of the day

$500-billion

The United States has made more than $500-billion in loans to small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and about $145-billion remains in the congressionally approved fund, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury Department said.

The U.S. government’s $660-billion small-business rescue program has stumbled on missing paperwork, technology failure and the misdirection of funds to big corporations. It also faces the hurdle of forgiving those hastily arranged loans.

The pandemic, which has killed more than 66,000 people in the United States, has shuttered wide swaths of U.S. life, closing many businesses and schools and leaving hundreds of millions largely sheltering at home. Over the past week, some U.S. states have begun to allow some businesses to reopen.


Coronavirus in Canada

There are currently at least 2,951 hospitalized cases, up 14 per cent in the last week. Of those 500 are in intensive care.

  • Quebec’s Education Minister told the province’s English-language school boards that they don’t have the right to refuse to reopen their elementary schools amid concern over coronavirus.
  • The federal government is investing millions to boost online access to health services and to support a Vancouver biological company’s research into treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
  • British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer, Bonnie Henry, urged continued vigilance even as the province prepares to begin loosening restrictions next week.
  • Manitoba will allow many non-essential businesses to reopen in one of the more aggressive restart-the-economy plans on Monday.

In Ottawa, a biotech company is voluntarily recalling a rapid test for COVID-19 after Health Canada expressed concern about its effectiveness, dealing a setback to expanded testing in the country.

  • The company, Spartan Bioscience said it would recall the 5,500 tests shipped nationally and work on additional clinical studies to assess the sampling method and swab.
  • Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said at a news conference that real-world trials of the test so far haven’t delivered necessary outcomes.

Dr. Tam said the recall won’t affect the national testing goal of 60,000 people a day, since that figure is based on systems already in use, but that it could affect the speed of further test increases and especially affect rural communities where local in-clinic tests would be especially useful.

And: In a whirlwind six weeks, Canadian universities redesigned their system of teaching and examination, and they supported their students through the financial shock of the pandemic. Now they’re reckoning with a changed world.


Coronavirus around the world

  • Countries that have eased lockdown restrictions such as China, the U.S. and India, experienced new peaks of infection.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonara joined hundreds of his supporters in Brasilia to protest against the National Congress and Supreme Court. Bolsonara has been accused of disregarding the pandemic, which has killed at least 6,750 in Brazil.
  • Eight weeks after a country-wide lockdown was declared, some facets of Italy’s phased reopening are taking longer than some anticipated.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s has traded his rallies for web broadcasts, as his re-election campaign has been forced to go digital.
  • In a new report, the International Press Institute concluded that in both democratic and autocratic states around the world, governments are using the coronavirus to further restrict press freedoms.

Coronavirus and business

In a rally dominated by the giants of the stock market, the little guys are having a moment.

Small-cap stocks, which sustained the brunt of the market crash sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, have staged a rousing comeback over the past two weeks, even after factoring in a two-day dip to end last week.

The small-cap segment in Canada has outperformed the broader stock market in eight of the past 10 trading sessions, over which time the S&P/TSX SmallCap Index rose by 8.5 per cent, compared with a 1.8-per-cent increase in the S&P/TSX Composite Index.

“That’s typically what you would see as the market tries to carve out a bottom,” said Mike Archibald, a portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc. specializing in Canadian growth stocks. “You start to get a little bit of reversion into the things that have been left for dead.”


Question and answer

Question: Can I put off car payments and insurance premiums because of COVID-19?

Answer: Normally, missing car payments could lead to extra charges, a damaged credit rating and even repossession. But right now, the major banks and many car companies are letting customers defer loan payments until later.

How much later? Most companies won’t say exactly how long they’ll let existing customers delay payments – they say they’re workingon a case-by-case basis.

“Deferrals are not payment waivers, so the payments still have to be made, but at a later date,” said Jenn McCarthy, spokeswoman for Nissan Canada, in an e-mail.

Hyundai was the only company that gave specifics about its program. It’s offering deferrals for up to three months on loans and a one-month deferral on leases.

The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered reader questions on physical distancing and many additional topics.


An act of kindness

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has donated 1-million pounds ($1.25-million) to help victims of domestic abuse and homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic after recovering from the virus herself.

The British writer said the money would be split between the charities Crisis and Refuge, which help the homeless, and victims of domestic violence respectively.

“As ever in a crisis of this sort, the poorest and most vulnerable are hit hardest,” she wrote on Twitter.

The donation comes a month after 54-year-old Rowling – who is married to a doctor – said she had recovered from a suspected case of COVID-19 after two weeks of illness.

Have you witnessed or performed acts of kindness in your neighbourhood? Share your stories, photos and videos and they might be included in The Globe and Mail. E-mail audience@globeandmail.com


Distractions

For the film buff:

World’s embrace of the Quarantine International Film Festival prompts an encore

Film festival organizers Siobhan Cooney and Spencer Streichert launched the Quarantine International Film Festival, soliciting short films from filmmakers around the world in Calgary, Alberta, April 23, 2020. Todd Korol/The Globe and MailTodd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Quarantined in their Calgary apartment early on in the pandemic, filmmakers Siobhan Cooney and Spencer Streichert got to thinking about how they could be creative.

“We were joking about how if we were going to be stuck at home, we should make a film,” said 25-year-old Ms. Cooney, recalling their reflections in early April.

In the end, they never picked up a camera. However, by organizing and launching a film festival attuned to the times, they encouraged scores of filmmakers around the world to pick up theirs. In the end, their efforts elicited more than 600 submissions from 54 countries

The top 40 official selection playlist includes such titles as Gods in the Forest from Germany; Detective Sky and the Case of the Missing Teddy Bear from the United States; Feet as Big as Zucchinis from the Netherlands; the knight and the beast from Israel; and How to Live in a Pandemic or Somewhat Social Distance, credited as a U.S./Spain entry.


More Globe reporting and opinion

  • “With the world facing the threat of COVID-19, auto manufacturers are going to war once again, this time making medical supplies. General Motors is looking to produce 30,000 ventilators at its Indiana factory and is already mass producing face masks. Ford has plans to build 50,000 ventilators by the beginning of July.”
  • “AIMCo held an online meeting on Thursday to update its clients on the recent performance problems, including a significant, unanticipated loss on derivatives – financial contracts that pay off only if stock markets remain stable – due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.”
  • Letters to the editor: “Our politicians should recognize that the decision to reopen is an ethical one to be informed by scientists, not made by scientists. If speed limits were halved on all roads, automotive accidents and deaths would be reduced. We don’t do it because there is an economic cost.

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