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

Top headlines
  1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled $82-billion in aid and tax deferrals
  2. The Canada-U.S. border will close to non-essential traffic
  3. Wuhan, China reported one new case, the first in 13 days in Hubei province
  4. British Columbia is under a state of emergency and Quebec reported its first coronavirus-related death
  5. Canadians stranded around the world may need to wait weeks before getting home

Have questions about the coronavirus? Email audience@globeandmail.com. The Globe’s paywall has been removed on coronavirus news stories.


Two woman practise social distancing in Geneva, Switzerland.FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images


Number of the day

One

New confirmed case of coronavirus in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak. This is the first new case the province, Hubei, has reported in 13 days.

  • Health officials said they had found no additional suspected cases from domestic sources in the entire country for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak.

“The most important thing for us now is to persist a bit longer. We’ve entered the final stage of the battle. It’s not over, but it will be,” said Wan Yun, whose mother contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

However: Lockdown measures in Wuhan have not been loosened; residents have now been in their homes for 55 days.


Coronavirus in Canada

616: total cases reported in Canada; with 10 recoveries and 9 deaths.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an economic aid package to support individual Canadians and businesses affected by the coronavirus. The measures represent "more than 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,” he said. The measures include:

  • $27-billion for an emergency aid package that offers immediate and direct help to individual Canadians and businesses; and
  • $55-billion in tax deferrals.

The $27-billion direct aid package includes:

  • $900 biweekly payments for 15 weeks; those who do not have employment insurance or paid sick leave will receive money from the government. Support for self-employed and part-time workers who do not qualify for EI will be announced later.
  • Small-business owners will receive a temporary wage subsidy from Ottawa that will be equal to 10 per cent of salary paid to employees for a period of three months.
  • Individuals have until June 1 to file taxes; payment can be deferred until Aug. 31.
  • A six-month moratorium for student loan repayments.
  • The Canada Child Benefit will be temporarily increased to $300, with $150 for every child.

Professor of economics Tammy Schirle said the moves are a “good start,” but the more may be needed in the weeks and months ahead.

And: The Canada-America border is closed to all non-essential travel. An agriculture union said if the border is closed to seasonal workers, it may not be able to sufficiently plant or harvest produce this summer.

And: Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said some Canadians are likely to be stranded abroad for weeks as airspace and borders close because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Coronavirus around the world

  • Wuhan, China reported one new coronavirus case – the first in Hubei province in thirteen days – signaling a slowdown of the virus at its Chinese epicenter.
  • As cases surged and markets crashed in the United States, President Donald Trump said he would invoke emergency powers to marshal in critical medical supplies. Meanwhile, the Senate approved guaranteed sick-leave legislation for workers impacted by the virus.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Great Britain will close schools starting Friday, and that all exams scheduled for May and June will be cancelled. France, Spain, Belgium and Italy have already announced countrywide lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.
  • Watch: Britain’s largest supermarkets have imposed limits on how much shoppers can buy, as panic buying grips the country.
  • In Italy, where cases have climbed to at least 35,713, demand for pulmonary respirators has become critical. The Italian government called in the military to help local manufacturers ramp up production of the lifesaving devices.
  • South Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 116, nearly doubling total infections in the country over 48 hours. The WHO said Africa should “prepare for the worst.”

Coronavirus and business:

What happened today?

Earlier today, U.S. markets were temporarily suspended after the S&P 500 dropped 7.8 per cent. It’s the fourth time in two weeks that trading was temporarily halted. The S&P finished 5.2 per cent down for the day; the index has fallen a total of 29 per cent in four weeks. The Dow closed down 6.3 per cent; the NASDAQ closed down 4.7 per cent.

On Bay Street: The TSX fell 7.5 per cent. Losses for the loonie fell 2 per cent, the biggest dip in almost a decade. The energy sector dropped 12.4 percent.

  • What is means: An emergency aid package announcement from the federal government couldn’t counter market stress and falling oil prices.

International business news:

Airlines around the world announced they are laying off workers.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he is working with the airlines and oil and gas sector on specific measures in response to coronavirus. Earlier this week, the world’s top airlines called on governments to provide for emergency aid to offset the financial impact of coronavirus.

Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We’d like to hear your story. Email: tips@globeandmail.com


Reader question

Question: I got tested for coronavirus but I never got results. How long does it take?

Answer: The test is simple – a swab in the nose – and it takes only a few hours to get results, in theory. However, despite operating seven days a week, labs are slammed, especially as provinces try to ramp up testing dramatically. While awaiting results you should act as if you are infected, meaning remain in isolation – no contact with other people.

In most provinces, you will only get a called if you have positive test result, and it will come within 24-48 hours. The “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach is not ideal. Some provinces have established a “negative results line” to confirm your test is negative, but you have to wait at least 72 hours because the paperwork takes time.

The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered additional reader questions. Need more answers? Email audience@globeandmail.com


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