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John Ash, Saskatchewan Health Authority executive director of acute care, speaks during an update on COVID-19 at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday March 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Latest headlines

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


7:15 p.m. EDT

Doug Ford calls Ontario’s low coronavirus testing rate ‘unacceptable’

Premier Doug Ford says Ontario’s low testing rate for COVID-19 is “unacceptable” and is vowing to significantly increase the numbers to catch up with the rest of the country.

Ontario has the lowest testing rates in Canada, which infectious disease experts say puts the province at a significant disadvantage when it comes to containing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Admitting he is “frustrated” by the slow pace, Mr. Ford said Wednesday he is directing his top health officials to immediately start conducting up to 13,000 tests a day. This week, Ontario only tested about 2,500 to 3,200 people a day for COVID-19.

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“My patience has run thin. No more excuses. It’s unacceptable,” he said. “We need to start doing 13,000 every single day. I want to see every single long-term care facility tested, every patient ... I want to see every front-line health-care worker in this province tested."

- Laura Stone and Carly Weeks


6:20 p.m. EDT

Alberta modelling shows 400 to 3,100 could die under most optimistic scenario

Health officials in Alberta say COVID-19 infections in the province are expected to peak in the middle of next month, with between 400 and 3,100 people potentially dying of the disease if physical distancing measures are successful.

Modelling data released on Wednesday predict that the Alberta’s health-care system has an adequate supply of intensive care needs and ventilators to manage the surge, but warns the province could run out of personal protective equipment in a little more than two months unless it can successfully order more.

Alberta is the latest province to release modelling data to explain how the pandemic could unfold, when it could reach its greatest impact on the health-care system and, in some cases, how many people could die.

The federal government has said national data is coming but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been vague about the timing.

- James Keller

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2:50 p.m. EDT

Federal prisons report 35 cases of COVID-19

The number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 has jumped to 35, with outbreaks in four federal institutions.

There are 11 positive cases at the Mission Institution in British Columbia.

Quebec has outbreaks at the Joliette Institution, where 10 prisoners have COVID-19, and at the Port-Cartier prison, where seven are sick.

There are also seven positive cases at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Ontario.

- Canadian Press


2:15 p.m. EDT

B.C. parks to close; province unveils emergency funding for some caregivers

British Columbia is closing its provincial parks to keep people safe during the COVID-19 crisis and it is providing help for families and children with special needs to cope with the added stress from the disease.

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The government says the immediate closure of the parks responds to directives to stay close to home and maintain physical distancing during the pandemic.

George Heyman, the minister of environment and climate change strategy, says it was difficult to ensure physical distancing among visitors to the parks.

A ban on overnight camping had already been imposed and BC Parks says it has now been extended to May 31.

The government has also announced an emergency fund for caregivers of special needs children, providing $225 per month to eligible families until the end of June.

The funding can be used for services ranging from meal preparation and grocery shopping to counselling services or payment to a relative providing temporary care for a child with special needs.

Katrine Conroy, the minister of children and family development, says families are facing uncertainty during the pandemic and the government is offering more flexibility in its support programs.

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- Canadian Press


1:40 p.m. EDT

Quebec cases of COVID-19 pass 10,000

Quebec has surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has added 25 more deaths, bringing the provincial death tally to 175.

Premier Francois Legault says the silver lining is that hospitalizations are starting to stabilize, but cautions the province still has a way to go.

Of the 10,031 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 632 people are hospitalized and 181 are in intensive care.

Legault’s message to Quebecers today is that keeping seniors safe is the top priority and extra staff and resources are being deployed to long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

- Canadian Press

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1:30 p.m. EDT

Saskatchewan modelling projects up to 8,300 deaths

Health officials in Saskatchewan project between 3,000 and 8,300 people in the province could die from COVID-19.

The figures are from a series of ‘what-if’ scenarios based on factors like how fast the virus spreads and testing.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority estimates the province could see between 153,000 and 408,000 total cases of COVID-19.

Officials say current physical distancing rules are working and report 260 cases of the virus.

- Canadian Press


11:25 a.m. EDT

Trudeau promises ‘relaxed’ standards for wage subsidy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal wage-subsidy program for employers hit by COVID-19 will have looser standards than previously announced.

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Rather than having to show a 30-per-cent decline in revenues, he says they can show a 15-per-cent decline in March, and can compare their revenues to previous months rather than the previous year.

Charities can also choose whether to include revenues from governments in their calculations when they apply.

He says businesses need to survive and workers need to get paid if the economy is to “come roaring back after this crisis.”

Trudeau also announced the federal government will cover 100 per cent of wages for students hired under the Canada Summer Jobs Program.

He says he hopes this will encourage businesses to hire students to allow them to get the work experience they need and earn incomes during the downturn.

He says more help will be announced soon to help people not eligible for the emergency benefit programs announced so far, including gig workers and seniors worried about losses to their savings.

- Canadian Press


10:50 a.m. EDT

Ontario reports 550 new cases, 21 additional deaths

Ontario is reporting 550 new COVID-19 cases today, the biggest single-day increase so far, including 21 new deaths.

The new provincial total of 5,276 includes 174 deaths and 2,074 resolved.

The number of people in hospital dropped since Tuesday, from 614 to 605, but more people are now in intensive care and on ventilators.

A backlog of pending tests that had nearly been cleared has now grown, and is up to more than 1,100.

- Canadian Press


10:30 a.m. EDT

John Haggie, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health and Community Services, is seen in a 2018 file photo.

John Woods/The Canadian Press

Newfoundland and Labrador to release pandemic forecast

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are expected to release figures later today that will predicts a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Health Minister John Haggie says the government’s predictive analytics group will release the figures at 6 p.m. local time.

Haggie says the new numbers will allow the province to plan for a worst-case scenario, though he admits the forecast is like “looking through a fuzzy crystal ball.”

The province revealed yesterday it had recorded two more cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 228 confirmed cases, while seven people remain in hospital.

- The Canadian Press


The Antigonish Highland Games, seen in a file photo, are suspended this year.

Antigonish Highland Games suspended

A long-running cultural and athletic staple in northeastern Nova Scotia has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 157th edition of the Antigonish Highland Games has been moved to next year and is now scheduled for July, 2021.

This marks only the second time in the event’s history that the games have been suspended, with the first occurring during the First World War.

The games have included a number of events, from dinners and dances to plays and concerts, as well as Highland dancing, piping and drumming competitions and ancient Scottish heavy athletic events.

- The Canadian Press


10 a.m. EDT

Vancity cuts credit card interest to zero

Vancity is temporarily cutting credit card interest rates to zero and and deferring minimum payments for those facing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19.

The Vancouver-based credit union says personal and business credit card holders who need to defer a payment due to the pandemic will be offered payment deferrals of up to six months at a zero per cent interest rate.

The move by Vancity comes after several of the large Canadian banks reduced their interest rates on their credit cards for those in financial hardship due to the pandemic.

- The Canadian Press


4 a.m. EDT

Twenty-three Canadians being held at federal quarantine sites, government says

The Trudeau government says 23 Canadians were being held at federal quarantine sites as the week began to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The newly released figure, the most current available, provides a glimpse into how the federal government is using its considerable powers under the Quarantine Act in an effort to contain the virus.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says that as of Sunday night, the almost two dozen Canadians were in federally designated quarantine sites and federally supported self-quarantine lodgings.

The agency set up the sites and says it is working with partners to manage them.

Agency spokeswoman Maryse Durette says no information about the location of the sites is being disclosed to protect the privacy of quarantined Canadians.

Under the Quarantine Act, the health minister can designate any place in Canada as a quarantine facility.

- The Canadian Press


Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Deputy Prime Minister Freeland next in line if Trudeau could not perform his duties

Now that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting COVID-19 in an intensive care ward, the Canadian cabinet has revealed who would take over from Justin Trudeau if he were to become seriously ill.

His own wife, Sophie, had the virus and has recovered.

The cabinet agrees Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland would be next in line if Trudeau could not perform his duties.

All 36 ministers in the current cabinet are listed in case Freeland is also unable to fill the role, but those who come after her are named according to the date by which they were first sworn into a federal cabinet.

That puts Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who first served in cabinet under former prime minister Jean Chretien, the next in line after Freeland.

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, who became a cabinet minister last November, is last.

- The Canadian Press


Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson, Jack and Charlie, are seen in Calgary in the February, 2020, file photo.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Canadians urged to include pets in their emergency plans

Humane Canada, which represents humane societies and SPCAs across the country, is urging Canadians to consider their pets as part of their emergency preparedness.

“First of all, I’ve got to have enough in the house if I have to be quarantined then I need a couple of weeks of medicine and a couple of weeks of litter; a couple of weeks of food for my animals,” said Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of Humane Canada in Ottawa.

“What happens if I get sick and I get incapacitated or hospitalized? What’s the plan for my pet? Who will take care of them?” she asked.

“We’re recommending that people have at least three contacts that they can call upon to take care of their animals should they end up being hospitalized or they can no longer care for their own animals.”

Cartwright said the current pandemic has reinforced how important pets are in people’s lives. She said people also have to make sure that their furry friends observe social distancing from other animals and humans because in rare cases the animal can become infected as well.

“There’s no evidence that they can transmit to us but there is growing concern that we have to protect our pets from either getting it from other animals or getting it from other humans,” she said.

“If we’re sick we need to stay away from our animals.”

- The Canadian Press


Liberals asked to help cover overruns on projects delayed by COVID-19

Cities and construction groups are asking the Trudeau Liberals to relax the rules for expected cost overruns from infrastructure projects facing delays from the COVID-19 pandemic — or add more cash to help them deal with it.

Federal rules around the $186-billion infrastructure program don’t permit provinces and cities to seek additional help from Ottawa if a project goes over budget for any reason, such as delays due to weather or a labour disruption.

But some provinces, such as Ontario, are curbing work on a number of job sites for public health requirements just as construction season is set to begin in earnest.

A data analysis by The Canadian Press shows federal funding is set to cover more than $5 billion for 607 projects with an expected start date of this spring, with 84 more in the summer.

Those projects range from new sewers in small towns to electric-vehicle charging stations at for-profit companies like Canadian Tire.

A national construction association says pandemic-related delays on those projects will inevitably push them over budget, while municipal leaders say they’re worried about having enough money to cover the extra costs.

- The Canadian Press


COVID-19 sparks rise in online child predators, says UNICEF chief

The head of the United Nations children’s agency says the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked an increase in online child sexual predators that organizations, governments and parents need to take more seriously.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, outlined that concern in a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press this week.

With half the planet’s children now out of school because of the pandemic, Fore says that has created new risks for kids in developing countries who are now spending more time on the internet.

She says COVID-19 has yet to hit hardest in the poorest countries but, when it does, it could create a second wave of the virus back in the world’s developed countries in the fall.

Fore also praises Canada’s efforts as a leader in helping young girls and women in the developing world, including getting more of them into schools.

Fore also made a direct appeal to Canadians to give generously to support UNICEF’s efforts to help children in poor countries who have no access to clean water, soap and other basic sanitary conditions.

- The Canadian Press


Archives

April 7: Care home workers are the frontlines of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreaks; Quebec projects 1,236 deaths by end of month

April 6: Boris Johnson in intensive care; 3M to resume exports of N95 masks to Canada

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