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Lisa Ali and her 15-year-old daughter Tahlia look out from the front door of their Halifax-area home in Cole Harbour, N.S., Tuesday, March 24, 2020.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

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The latest: How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide?

If you are returning to Canada from anywhere, you need to self-isolate: Here’s how

Explainer: What you need to know about COVID-19 and its toll around the world

7:00 p.m. EDT

B.C. health officer concerned about spread in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

B.C. medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she has concerns about a possible spread of COVID-19 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Henry says many residents in the impoverished community have underlying health conditions and may be more vulnerable to having severe illness from the virus.

She says they have plans in place to manage and protect those living in the community, including how to help them isolate and care for those who are ill.

Another 42 cases have tested positive in B.C. for a total of 659 people.

Nine long-term care facilities in the province now have cases of COVID-19, while 183 people have fully recovered from the virus.

– The Canadian Press

6:00 p.m. EDT

More than 800 Canadians arrive home

The federal government says three Air Canada flights brought home more than 800 Canadians today from Morocco, Spain and Ecuador.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says in a statement that the government continues to work to bring home as many Canadians as possible.

But he says some will remain outside the country for an indeterminate amount of time.

There are currently nearly 420,000 Canadians outside the country who have voluntarily registered with Global Affairs Canada.

– The Canadian Press

5:15 p.m. EDT

Police in Quebec issue $1,000 fine for illegal gathering

Police in Gatineau, Que., say they have issued a $1,000 fine for an illegal gathering under emergency public health measures enacted by the province to stop the spread of COVID-19.

They say in a statement that officers responded to a noise complaint shortly after midnight and found five people inside an apartment in the Hull sector making enough noise to be heard outside the building.

They established that two of the people did not live at the address, and when they failed to co-operate, police ticketed the tenant $200 for a noise violation and $1,000 under the Public Health Act.

The city says it is the first such fine issued under measures announced by the Quebec government Saturday forbidding almost all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

– The Canadian Press

5:00 p.m. EDT

Toronto closes many green spaces

Toronto is clamping down on use of the city’s green space, closing municipally-owned playgrounds, off-leash dog parks, sports fields and other park amenities in a bid to stop people gathering in risky groups. The city said Wednesday these shut-downs were effective immediately and that violators could face fines of up to $5,000.

“We were very much hoping that our community would be able to respect the six-foot distance from others, outside, so that they could enjoy those spaces safely,” Toronto Chief Medical Officer Eileen de Villa told a news briefing.

“But unfortunately we were getting a number of calls and concerns from Toronto residents. And certainly I observed and I know that many of us here around the city were observing … that there were violations, people who were simply not following the recommendation to remain six feet apart.”

In a statement, Toronto said that there are 1,500 city-owned parks, more than 800 playgrounds, approximately 70 off-leash dog parks and hundreds of playing courts. Where possible, these amenities will be locked. In other cases they will be taped off and signs posted. Also being closed are hundreds of parking spaces associated with parks.

– Oliver Moore in Toronto

2:15 p.m. EDT

Non-urgent services suspended at Yukon hospitals

The number of COVID-19 cases in Yukon has increased by one, to a total of three in the territory.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley provided the update in Whitehorse.

He says the third case is related to travel outside Yukon, the patient is doing well at home and health officials have begun tracing anyone who may have had contact with the person.

Starting tomorrow, Hanley says all non-urgent and routine services will be suspended at Yukon hospitals as the territory works to halt the spread of the respiratory virus.

– The Canadian Press

1:30 p.m. EDT

Quebec records two more deaths

Quebec Premier François Legault says two more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to six.

The province currently has 1,339 cases, which is an increase of 326 over yesterday’s total.

Seventy-eight people are in hospital, including 35 in intensive care.

Legault says the test results are nevertheless encouraging because the number of positive cases remains relatively low compared to the number of tests taken.

– The Canadian Press

12:15 p.m. EDT

Tam urges Canadians to still give blood

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canadians are getting the message that donating blood is safe.

Tam told the Senate today that both Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec have put “amazing” systems in place to screen donors for symptoms of COVID-19 before allowing them into the blood donation centres.

“We are seeing Canadians step up and they just need to keep going,” she said.

– The Canadian Press

11:05 a.m.

Ontario reports 100 new cases, total now 688

Ontario is reporting 100 more COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial total to 688.

That’s the largest single-day spike in cases.

It includes a ninth death and at least five people who are hospitalized, including a woman in her 20s.

Provincial health officials have said that increasing numbers of new cases in this period are expected, as so many Canadians return from abroad.

A backlog of people waiting for test results remains over 10,000.

Ontario’s finance minister is set to deliver a fiscal update today focused on supporting the province’s health-care system as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario reports 100 new COVID-19 cases, total now 688

-The Canadian Press

10:30 a.m.

Morneau says emergency worker benefits will come in April

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tells the Senate that emergency benefits for workers will come in April, and top-ups for the Canada Child Benefit and GST will come in May.

Morneau says the government is not set up to handle the massive needs right now any faster.

“There aren’t faster ways to get money into Canadian hands,” he said.

- The Canadian Press

9:45 a.m.

Global Affairs begins processing emergency loans

Global Affairs Canada says 93 loans have been approved under the Emergency Loan Program, which offers up to $5,000 per person to Canadians who are stranded abroad and need financial help.

Another 380 applications are being processed right now.

As well the first in a series of flights bringing Canadians home from Peru left Lima this morning and additional flights are in the works in eight other countries including Ukraine and Morocco.

Canada is giving priority to places where there are no or very limited commercial options for flights, and where there are a “critical mass” of Canadians trying to get out.

- The Canadian Press

9:30 a.m. EDT

Newfoundland police arrest woman who refused to self-isolate

A woman was arrested in Newfoundland on Tuesday for violating public health emergency orders enacted by the provincial government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Const. James Cadigan says The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary responded to complaints that a woman in Corner Brook had arrived in the province and was not self-isolating for 14 days.

He says officers spoke with her about the measures and later made an arrest due to non-compliance or orders issued under the province’s Public Health Protection and Promotion Act.

She was held in custody overnight to appear in provincial court this morning.

Individuals breaching the orders could be fined between $500 and $2,500 and could face jail sentences of up to six months.

- The Canadian Press

8:30 a.m.

House approves emergency bill

The House of Commons approved emergency legislation authorizing billions in new spending for workers and businesses after the government abandoned controversial plans to give cabinet special powers through to 2022.

A revised bill passed quickly through all stages in the early hours of Wednesday morning after Finance Department officials re-wrote an earlier draft bill that had been rejected by opposition parties as an excessive power grab.

The original draft bill would have given cabinet the power to tax, spend and borrow in unlimited amounts through regulation and without Parliamentary approval until Dec. 31, 2021. The revised version approved Wednesday removes the section relating to taxation powers and limits other special powers to a period of no later than September 30, 2022.

Both the original draft bill and the revised version approved Wednesday authorize the government to proceed with the $82-billion in spending and tax deferral measures the government announced last week to address the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

- Bill Curry, Robert Fife

6:30 a.m. EDT

Poll shows 44 per cent of households have lost work

A new poll from the Angus Reid Institute shows 44 per cent of Canadians reported that they or someone in their house had lost work because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Another 18 per cent of Canadians polled said they expected to lose work in the near future.

More than half the people who had lost work said they were not being otherwise compensated by their employer and the same amount said that applying for employment insurance had been a difficult process.

- The Canadian Press

6:05 a.m. EDT

Schools closing playgrounds to encourage social distancing

Manitoba schools are being told to shut down their play structures due to the ongoing threat of the global pandemic.

The Manitoba School Board Association says where possible school divisions should dismantle the equipment.

The association says schools can maintain green spaces, but the objective is to reduce shared play structure surfaces that could hinder social distancing.

The Winnipeg, Rolling River and River East Transcona divisions, among others, have announced they intend to comply.

- The Canadian Press

6:05 a.m. EDT

Farm groups deliver services remotely

Farm Credit Canada says it is delivering many services remotely to producers due to COVID-19.

They include financial services and cash advance applications administered by the Canadian Canola Growers Association.

F.C.C. President Michael Hoffort says at least 90 per cent of employees are now working from home in observance of social distancing recommendations.

He says F.C.C. is working with customers who are looking to defer loans or get access to additional capital for the coming growing season.

Rick White, C.E.O. of the canola growers association, says if farmers get a busy signal, try again or go on-line.

- The Canadian Press

6:05 a.m. EDT

Calgary long-term care centre reports province’s second death

A senior living in a Calgary long-term care centre has died from COVID-19, and others in the facility have tested positive or are showing symptoms of the virus.

The province says it’s the second novel coronavirus death in Alberta, which now has 358 cases.

The woman, in her 80s, was a resident of McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre.

Deena Hinshaw, medical officer of health, says one staff member and two other residents of the facility have tested positive for COVID-19, with 11 more residents showing symptoms.

Alberta has been instituting increasing levels of isolation at continuing care centres.

- The Canadian Press

6:05 a.m. EDT

Lawyers call for early releases for people detained for non-violent offences

Some lawyers want changes to Alberta’s prison system -- including early releases -- to prevent a possible emergency due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association of Calgary say inmates do not have the ability to maintain social distance from other inmates.

Alberta Justice says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any provincial remand, correctional or youth facility in the province.

The lawyers’ groups say people detained for non-violent offences, those with 90 days or less remaining of their sentences, and those with medical conditions should be released from custody.

They also want additional cleaning and strict protocols for visitors to help protect inmates who would not qualify for release.

- The Canadian Press

5 a.m. EDT

Good deeds, spirit of sharing spreads amid pandemic panic purchasing

While panicked shoppers have been buying stores out of toilet paper and flour stocks, two tables have appeared on streets in the Vancouver area stacked with essential items and a sign that says “free.”

Raymond Liu, who is part of a group that set up the tables, said the idea behind them is simple: “Do not spread the virus, just spread love.”

The message seems to be catching on. In many cases, someone will pick up an item they need but leave something else behind that others could use, Liu said.

The idea started in a WeChat social media group that has grown to 1,000 people who want to help during the crisis, he said.

“Members of the group can post an item they need and others can respond, leaving it on one of the tables for them to pick up.”

In addition to the tables, Liu said they also crowdsource donations of supplies for those in need. For example, when members learned a care home was short on N95 masks, which provide respiratory protection, they found enough extra boxes to donate 100 masks.

The group’s main focus is helping those in isolation or those who are vulnerable, Liu said.

And one of its main messages is that love should know no boundary. A sign on one of the tables shows a Canadian flag, a Chinese flag and the words, “Stay strong, stay together.”

- The Canadian Press

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Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips answers questions at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

4 a.m. EDT

Ontario to provide fiscal update today focused on virus response

Ontario’s finance minister says he will deliver a fiscal update today focused on supporting the province’s health-care system as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rod Phillips says the update will be delivered in place of the province’s now delayed annual budget, which may not be released until November.

Phillips says the update will include a “significant focus” on providing supports to the health-care sector, as well as supports for businesses and the economy overall.

The legislature will meet in a special session to vote on the package, with only 28 politicians present in order to maintain social distancing.

Premier Doug Ford has promised it’s just the first step of provincial support during the pandemic.

Phillips says the update will also serve as an important signal to the many groups the province funds such as municipalities, school boards and hospitals.

- The Canadian Press

Open this photo in gallery:

Lisa Ali and her 15-year-old daughter Tahlia look out from the front door of their Halifax-area home in Cole Harbour, N.S., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Tahlia, whose lung-heart transplant has been put off due to the COVID-19 crisis, has pulmonary hypertension, which leads to a lack of oxygen to blood vessels in the lungs, and two small holes in her heart.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

4 a.m. EDT

Transplant patients bumped by virus face anxiety

For Canadians awaiting life-changing operations, the novel coronavirus is creating deepening distress as cancellations and delays roll through the public health system.

Fifteen-year-old Tahlia Ali is among the patients whose organ transplant procedures are put off at the country’s largest transplant centre in Toronto.

The University Health Network has said lung transplants are suspended except in cases of critical deterioration, however the Alis still expect to eventually go to Toronto to wait for the teenager’s new lungs, and are fundraising to help pay housing and travel costs.

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, the director of the lung transplant program, said the suspension of the program is necessary because tests to ensure a donor lung doesn’t contain the virus are still being refined, and because having transplant teams fly around Canada to pick up and transport lungs would increase the risk of widening the pandemic.

Similar stories are emerging affecting people with a variety of conditions, from delays in cancer tests to cancelled joint surgeries.

- The Canadian Press

4 a.m. EDT

Canada to help world’s poor amid U.N. appeal: aid minister

International Development Minister Karina Gould says Canada will spend millions to help the world’s most desperate people fight COVID-19 because it is in the country’s long-term security interest as well as being the right thing to do.

Gould says that’s why Canada has earmarked $50 million, part of its response to today’s launch of the United Nations COVID-19 humanitarian response plan.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Gould rebutted criticism in some quarters that the government ought to be focusing instead on Canadians hunkering down at home to limit the spread of the virus.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to launch a $2-billion global appeal today, calling for a co-ordinated response to help the world’s war-torn, displaced and otherwise most destitute people who are facing new misery because of the pandemic.

Guterres has sent a letter to the G20 members, including Canada, urging them to spend more to prevent the virus from spreading like wildfire in developing countries burdened by poor health systems and massive refugee influxes.

Gould says the government needs to help Canadians at home with an $82-billion spending package, but it must also spend $50 million globally to protect Canada’s future security and economic prosperity from a virus that knows no borders.

- The Canadian Press

4 a.m. EDT

Testing backlog linked to shortage of chemicals

Regions across Canada are ramping up efforts to identify people with COVID-19 but some labs are facing a backlog due to diminishing supplies of essential chemicals needed for tests.

“We all would want more tests,” Canada’s chief public officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday.

The World Health Organization has said expansive testing is the way to curb the pandemic, but global demand has outpaced the supply of reagents — the specific chemicals needed by laboratories to complete the tests.

The Center for Disease Control in the United States has also said that important reagents are “now are in short supply,” a worry echoed by medical associations around the world.

They are all looking for the chemical solutions at the same time and, as a result, some Canadian health authorities and labs are seeking alternative supply chains.

Nearly 120,000 Canadians have been tested for the novel coronavirus — an average of 10,000 a day.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday linked that province’s huge testing backlog to a lack of reagents. He said health officials were doing everything they could to get more of the chemicals.

Agriculture Canada has been providing reagents to the provincial lab in Alberta as it waits for an order of the testing solution to arrive, said Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan. The lab is also working with the University of Calgary, University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge to find any available supply.

- The Canadian Press

3:30 a.m. EDT

N.S. to ramp up testing

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says testing in the province is about to increase significantly.

Doctor Robert Strang says Public Health has now doubled its capacity in its test lab and is now in a position to deal with up to 400 tests a day.

He says as a result, the province is now able to test all those who had close contact with an infected person, right away.

He also says testing is being done for people in hospital where clinically appropriate.

- The Canadian Press

Open this photo in gallery:

Posters calling for a rent protest is photographed at the corner of King St. West and Cowan Ave. in the Parkdale neighbourhood, on Mar 24 2020. With many Torontonians losing jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to pay their monthly rent is at risk.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

2 a.m. EDT

Renters groups ask for help as April 1 looms

Tenant advocacy groups across the country are expected to formally ask governments for help paying rent today as an April first deadline looms.

Many renters have been left scrambling as the COVID-19 outbreak shuts down businesses and causes thousands of job losses.

Landlords say they still have to worry about paying mortgages, taxes and other expenses during the pandemic.

But Geordie Dent, the executive director of Toronto’s Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, says many renters won’t be able to make their payments without help.

He says that tenant associations across the country plan on issuing a joint statement today seeking some kind of government relief.

- The Canadian Press

2 a.m. EDT

Tory leadership contenders call for delay of vote

Three contenders for the federal Conservative leadership are calling for the race to be delayed and for fees to be cut in half due to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marilyn Gladu, Rudy Husny and Derek Sloan have written a joint letter to the Conservative party’s leadership election organizing committee.

They are dismayed their previous individual requests for a delay have so far been ignored. They say a lack of an acceptable response to individual candidates has necessitated a unified request.

They also argue the eventual leader of the party must be perceived as a legitimate and democratically selected choice and must inspire the faith and goodwill of party members. They say that is not now supported by the current situation.

Today is the deadline for contenders to enter the race, complete with the required 300 thousand-dollar fee and three thousand signatures.

The vote is currently scheduled for June 27 in Toronto.

Sloan, Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis, Conservative M-P Erin O’Toole and former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay have already met the requirements.

- The Canadian Press

The spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continues, with more cases diagnosed in Canada. The Globe offers the dos and don'ts to help slow or stop the spread of the virus in your community.

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March 24: Government, opposition reach deal on emergency aid package

March 23: Nearly half of Canada’s COVID-19 cases now acquired through community spread

March 22: Canada refuses to go to Olympics unless postponed; Trudeau not at point of declaring federal emergency

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