Nearly half of Canadian COVID-19-related deaths caused by outbreaks at seniors’ homes
Outbreaks at seniors’ homes have caused hundreds of deaths across Canada, close to half the COVID-19-related fatalities in the country, according to Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. And that number is only expected to keep rising.
“Almost all jurisdictions are essentially trying to deal with the outbreaks in long-term care facilities,” Dr. Tam said at a briefing. “Even as the numbers of cases slows down, the number of deaths, unfortunately, are expected to increase.”
Long-term care outbreaks have had a taken a particularly devastating toll in Ontario and Quebec as officials in both provinces struggle to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus at hundreds of homes.
Meanwhile, infectious disease experts have launched a cross-Canada initiative to sequence the DNA from a large number of individuals who have been infected with COVID-19. The project will make its data widely available with the goal of identifying genetic variations that are relevant to the severity of the disease and that could help inform treatment. Key to the project is the question of age and its relationship to the progress of a COVID-19 infection.
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The United States
The ban on non-essential cross-border travel between Canada and the United States will likely continue for a few more weeks. U.S and Canadian officials are discussing whether to reopen the border to non-essential travel, although they say it’s very unlikely that those restrictions would be lifted. Sources say the discussions are more focused on whether to extend the border restrictions for two weeks or another 30-day period.
Americans are growing increasingly anxious over the pandemic and the state of the global economy – and forging a rare bipartisan consensus that the U.S. must reach out to other countries to fight the spread of disease, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
The poll also found a stark class divide, with lower-income and less-educated Americans far more likely to be concerned about disease, pointing to the inequalities in a country where millions of people have little or no access to health care.
Meanwhile New York State has now reported 10,056 deaths since early March, with more than half of them in the past week. Hospitals are still getting about 2,000 new patients a day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The bleak numbers overshadowed hopeful trends that prompted Cuomo to tentatively declare Monday that the “worst is over” – as long as New Yorkers continue to follow stay-at-home restrictions.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, governments are struggling with the delicate balance between keeping people safe from a highly contagious virus and making sure they can still make a living or even have enough to eat.
Workers in some non-essential industries were returning to their jobs yesterday in Spain, one of the hardest hit countries, while in South Korea, officials were warning that hard-earned progress fighting the virus could be eroded by new infections as restrictions ease.
An app unexpectedly told large numbers of foreign residents in Beijing that they could not leave their homes this past weekend, a digital quarantine order that was rescinded just hours later after causing widespread confusion.
The Beijing Health Kit app has been used by millions as part of a nationwide strategy of deploying digital tools in the hope that computerized decision-making can succeed in containing the deadly new coronavirus where mere human oversight might fail.
But the brief home quarantine order in Beijing – whose appearance and disappearance have yet to be explained – offers a vivid example of the risk of entrusting software with decisions about human freedom.
China has approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines to combat the new coronavirus as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from neighbouring Russia, the new “front line” in the war on COVID-19. Russia has become China’s largest source of imported cases, with a total of 409 infections originating in the country.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
U.S., Taliban officials negotiate prisoner release
The chief U.S. negotiator and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan held talks yesterday with Taliban officials in Doha on a prisoner release dispute that helped stall U.S.-led peacemaking efforts, a Taliban spokesman said.
Drop in noise pollution lets earthquake scientists record new data
For earthquake scientists, having hundreds of millions of people off the streets and out of the skies is providing a bonanza of data about the planet. All those planes, trains and automobiles that aren’t running because of stay-home policies meant to fight the spread of COVID-19 have cut noise pollution in some cities by more than half, allowing seismologists to record sounds from inside Earth they never could before.
Netanyahu rival calls for coalition deal ahead of midnight deadline in Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party said early Tuesday they had made “meaningful progress” in their efforts to form a joint government to confront the coronavirus crisis, agreeing to continue talks this week after a midnight deadline expired.
The late-night announcement provided a glimmer of hope that the sides could end the country’s prolonged political paralysis and avoid a fourth election in just over a year.
World stocks rise on China trade data, easing pandemic fears: World stocks gained on Tuesday after Chinese trade data came in better than expected and some countries tried to restart their economy by partly lifting restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak. Just before 6 a.m., Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were up 1.05 per cent and 0.27 per cent, respectively. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.43 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 3.13 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.56 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading just below 72 US cents.
WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
‘Human rights don’t have a best-before date’: COVID-19 lays bare rampant ageism
André Picard: “We have known from the get-go that people in institutional care were among the most vulnerable to a pandemic. Yet little was done to protect them.”
You don’t stop a virus by bleeding democracy
Editorial: “The transparency and accountability that comes from having to pass a bill through Parliament is the foundation of our system of government.”
Seniors’ care-home neglect is our national shame
Rona Ambrose: “Leaders cannot assume that long-term care homes have the capacity and ability to manage through this crisis with business-as-usual infection-control protocols.” Rona Ambrose is a former leader of the Opposition, as well as minister of health and minister responsible for the Public Health Agency of Canada during the Ebola crisis in 2014
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
The artist is not present: Canadian performers describe the works the coronavirus pandemic has shelved
Physical distancing has put operas, ballets, albums and book tours on hold, or worse. Marsha Lederman and Brad Wheeler reached out to the artists by video chat to learn what they’ve lost and how they plan to move forward
MOMENT IN TIME
Since 2009, the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has kidnapped or murdered thousands of students and teachers in northeastern Nigeria, a bloodthirsty campaign to act out the promise of its name, which in the Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden.” In April, 2014, the group’s terrorist tactics caused international outrage when its fighters showed up at a state-run boarding girls school near Chibok in the middle of the night. They kidnapped 276 female students at gunpoint, forcing them onto trucks. Some of the girls escaped immediately and a few managed to flee captivity over the next few months, but most were forced to live with Boko Haram. Some were beaten and raped. The girls’ story created headlines around the world and celebrities, including Michelle Obama, campaigned for the Nigerian government and international organizations to free the students, using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. In 2016 and 2017, under negotiations facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than 100 girls were freed from captivity. Some of them returned to their families, and some went to study at a university in Nigeria. However, today more than 100 of the girls remain missing. – Elizabeth Renzetti