Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
COVID-19 infections top 100,000 worldwide, and other coronavirus news
The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus across the world surpassed 100,000 as the outbreak reached more countries and the economic damage intensified, with business districts beginning to empty and stock markets tumbling.
- An increasing number of people faced a new reality as many were asked to stay home from work, schools were closed, large gatherings and events were cancelled, stores cleared of staples such as toiletries and water, and face masks became a common sight.
- The outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people and spread across more than 90 nations, with six countries reporting their first cases on Friday.
- More than 2,000 people were stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship after it was barred from returning to port in San Francisco because at least 35 people aboard developed flu-like symptoms. Test kits were delivered at sea to the vessel.
In Canada, a man in his 40s, newly diagnosed with COVID-19, recently travelled to Las Vegas and used public transit in Toronto for several days before he was tested. He’s currently self-isolating at home. "We’re talking about low-risk situations,” said Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s top public-health doctor, in a briefing Friday. Transit riders without COVID-19 symptoms do not need to seek medical help, de Villa said, unless they get a call from her unit.
Another Toronto man, in his 50s, recently returned to Canada from Iran, and has been diagnosed with the virus. He is also self-isolating.
Meanwhile, a couple in Peel Region just west of Toronto who had been on the Grand Princess cruise ship in San Francisco were diagnosed after returning home to Mississauga. Peel Public Health is asking passengers in rows 18 to 22 on West Jet flight 1199 on Feb. 28 to self-isolate, but says the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low. Another 237 Canadians have been forbidden from leaving the ship after a subsequent cruise while some of the thousands of passengers aboard now are tested, according to a spokesperson for Princess Cruises.
Tim Hortons is suspending a plan to give away 1.8 million reusable cups as part of its Roll Up the Rim to Win promotion, and will not serve beverages in reusable containers that guests bring themselves, amid concerns about the coronavirus.
Speaking to a business audience in Toronto, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he will take a “practical and prudent” approach to the coming federal budget in the face of COVID-19, while assuring that the government has the “fiscal firepower” to respond to the economic fallout from the outbreak.
The government’s fiscal projections include a $3-billion-a-year adjustment for risk to cover unforeseen spending or economic changes. In December, the government lowered its adjustment for the current fiscal year to $1.5-billion, as half of the fiscal year had passed. But Morneau indicated that his government would be prepared to substantially ramp up spending if the economic situation substantially deteriorated.
Leslie Beck advises on how to stock your pantry if you’re concerned about a possible self-isolation. She recommends having a supply of nutrient-dense foods that will last for two weeks, and offers tips to help you eat healthy, balanced meals whether self-isolated or not.
- Andrew Coyne: A coronavirus recession could mean a fearful reckoning. “Things are, as they say, about to get real. In an economic crisis – on top of a public-health crisis – politics is likely to revert to form. There will be little public patience for any party or leader who does not focus on practical proposals for relieving the crises. Politics may again become a serious business, for serious people.”
- The latest news on COVID-19 and the toll it’s taking around the world
- ‘Isn’t the flu worse?’ And other coronavirus questions answered by André Picard and others.
Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We’d love to hear your story. Email: email@example.com
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Conservative leadership race heats up
Just days ago he was the candidate to beat, but now Peter MacKay’s front-runner status in the federal Conservative leadership race has taken a hit as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney endorsed leadership candidate Erin O’Toole, calling the MP from Durham in Ontario “competent and principled" and saying the party needs a leader who “is true blue and can get things done.” He also took a direct jab at Mr. MacKay, suggesting he wouldn’t be welcoming to the party’s social conservatives.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Rob Carrick’s 2020 ETF Buyer’s Guide: International and global equity funds
Although Canadians have been reluctant to add foreign content to their portfolios, you can choose from these ETFs to add exposure to global giants such as Toyota, Nestlé, Novartis, Samsung and Royal Dutch Shell to your portfolio.
Canadian economy generates more jobs than forecast but virus impact looms
During February, 30,300 positions were created, handily beating the consensus estimate of 11,000, Statistics Canada said Friday in its Labour Force Survey. The unemployment rate ticked higher, to 5.6 per cent, but remains near historic lows. The entirety of February’s gain was in full-time work from private-sector employers. Wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing were standout sectors, while Quebec added the largest number of jobs by province. Its jobless rate tumbled to 4.5 per cent, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976. The optimism was tempered by warnings that this run of strength that could be threatened by the coronavirus outbreak.
Toronto police search for suspects who abducted boy in drug-theft retribution
Toronto police will aggressively investigate the abduction of a teenage boy who was kidnapped as retribution for an unpaid drug debt, Chief Mark Saunders pledged. The 14-year-old boy was located by police at a property in Brampton, Ont., at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday, and is now back at home with his parents. The debt apparently belongs to the boy’s stepbrother, who according to Toronto Police Superintendent Steve Watts, owes money in relation to a 100-kilogram cocaine theft last summer. The cocaine has a street value of $4-million.
Yields on U.S. Treasuries plunged to historic lows as fear the coronavirus outbreak will slam the global economy drove investors to snap up risk-adverse assets and dump equities, overshadowing data highlighting a strong U.S. labour market. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to a record low of 0.69 per cent.
Canada’s main stock index fell sharply, as energy stocks were down 6.6 per cent. Materials were off 2.2 per cent. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 378.97 points, or 2.29 per cent, at 16,175.02.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 3.10 per cent and emerging market stocks lost 2.81 per cent. In Europe, the pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 3.67 per cent. The travel & leisure sub-index slid 3.9 per cent to trade firmly in bear market territory, seen as a 20 per cent drop from recent peak.
Rate-sensitive U.S. financial stocks nursed some of the biggest losses among the 11 S&P sectors on Wall Street. The banking sub-index fell 3.3 per cent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 256.23 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 25,865.05, the S&P 500 lost 51.54 points, or 1.70 per cent, to 2,972.4 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 162.98 points, or 1.87 per cent, to 8,575.62.
Trudeau government’s ‘deliverology’ experiment ends with a whimper
Konrad Yakabuski: “To anyone who has worked in government, the whole concept of “deliverology” smacked of warmed-over administration theory repackaged by former bureaucrats-turned-consultants seeking to monetize their insider knowledge of the public service. And career bureaucrats do not take kindly to know-it-all political appointees telling them how to do their jobs.”
Peace with the Taliban comes at the expense of Afghanistan’s women
Sally Armstrong, human-rights activist, journalist and author: "Now, U.S. President Donald Trump has made his own deal with these devils. Maybe he thinks they have changed. They have not.” .
When we turn refugees into human weapons, nobody wins
Doug Saunders: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "transformed the Syrians in Turkey – most of them living in huge camps and in desperate circumstances – into weapons against Europe. It was a move of epic inhumanity and cynicism. But Mr. Erdogan was not the first leader, nor the last, to weaponize the people of Syria.”
Sleep-deprived? Our exhaustive guide to getting a good night’s rest
As we spring forward this weekend, here’s a survival guide to sleep: From the science of sleep to pillows and mattresses to solutions for snoring, our best tips to get a better slumber.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Author Hilary Mantel on Brexit, the monarchy and why Thomas Cromwell will always haunt her
When Elizabeth Renzetti previously spoke with Hilary Mantel, the Booker-winning author of a trilogy of books about Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII, on the heels of the publication of the second book of the series, the author revealed the “sinking feeling” she had, no longer having the characters in her head. Speaking with Renzetti again, as the final book hits the shelves, Mantel is deep into a retelling of the trilogy, this time on stage. “For me," Mantel says, "there hasn’t been a second’s pause – as soon as Thomas Cromwell’s head was off, it went straight back on again. We just recirculated him into a different medium.”
- Also: read Guy Gavriel Kay’s review of The Mirror and the Light, the conclusion of the trilogy that began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies