More than 203,000 have died globally, Johns Hopkins University researchers say, as cases of COVID-19 approach three million. Canada’s cases top 45,000. Health Canada cautions against use of malaria drugs to treat COVID-19. Canada’s top doctor warns against relying on herd immunity to reopen economy. Trudeau says reopening economy hinges on sectors having enough personal protective equipment. INTERACTIVE | See the latest data on coronavirus cases in Canada. Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca
Global deaths from COVID-19 have surpassed 203,000 and reported cases worldwide are approaching three million, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
Confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada rose Saturday to 45,354, and the number of deaths hit 2,555 deaths, not including two deaths abroad, according to a CBC News tally.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus carnage, provinces such as New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are moving ahead with plans to cautiously begin reopening their locked-down economies.
Ontario and Quebec are both expected to unveil their initial plans this week.
However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who talked to the premiers on Friday about their recovery strategies, stressed Saturday that none of them hinge on people being immune to catching COVID-19 more than once.
He said it is too soon to talk about so called “immunity passports” for Canadians who’ve been infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, because the science is still unclear about whether those who have recovered from the illness are protected from catching the virus again.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the federal government has set up an immunity task force that will investigate how people’s immune systems are responding to COVID-19.
“The idea of … generating natural immunity is actually not something that should be undertaken,” Tam said Saturday, urging people to be “extremely cautious” about the concept.
WATCH | Tam says it’s ‘premature’ to consider immunity passports:
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that without a clear understanding of immunity tests for COVID-19, it’s too early to think about issuing passes for those who might be protected. 0:53
Trudeau said the focus remains on preventing the spread of the virus through physical distancing and personal protective equipment.
He is not scheduled to speak today.
In Toronto Saturday, dozens of protesters rallied on the grounds of the Ontario legislature, defying physical distancing rules and demanding an immediate end to the COVID-19 lockdown — some even calling the pandemic a hoax.
Ontario protesters are selfish ‘yahoos,’ Ford says
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was quick with a strong rebuke, calling the demonstrators a “reckless” and “selfish” bunch of “yahoos,” who were breaking the law and putting others, including health-care workers, in jeopardy.
Ford said Friday that his government will offer some details early next week about its reopening plans.
A protester demands the removal of the provincial COVID-19 restrictions outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Saturday. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)
Meanwhile, Health Canada cautioned on Saturday against the use of malaria drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, to prevent or treat COVID-19.
The Canadian health department said the two drugs may cause serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems. It advised use of the two drugs only if prescribed by a doctor.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also cautioned against the use of malaria drugs in COVID-19 patients on Friday. U.S. President Donald Trump had repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the virus.
At his regular news conference at Rideau Cottage on Saturday, Trudeau said any plans to reopen the economy will be based on science, data and expert advice.
Trudeau said Canada shouldn’t be reopening any sector without a plan to protect workers, which hinges on adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). He says planeloads of PPE are expected in the coming weeks, and domestic production will be on line soon.
WATCH | Trudeau details joint guidelines to reopen economy:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed how Canada’s provinces are working on a jointly-drafted set of guidelines to establish principles for reopening the country’s economy. 0:42
In addition to multiphase plans unveiled by New Brunswick and Saskatchewan this week, the federal government has circulated a set of draft guidelines that could form the basis of the joint document. The federal guidelines were prepared largely by the Public Health Agency of Canada and include feedback from provincial medical officers.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called for a national plan, expressing concern about a “possible patchwork approach across the country.”
$62.5M for fish and seafood sector
Also Saturday, Trudeau announced $62.5 million to support fish and seafood processors.
The prime minister said the money will help processors buy PPEs, adapt to new health protocols and support physical distancing.
WATCH | Trudeau says new funds will help industry adapt to COVID-19 challenges:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that new funds for Canada’s fish and seafood processors will help them adapt to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 0:58
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the United States and around the world.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia reported two new deaths on Saturday, including the province’s first death related to COVID-19 in a First Nations community. B.C. also reported 95 new cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said part of the reason for the dramatic spike in cases is additional testing related to outbreaks at a federal prison and a poultry processing plant. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney warned the government cannot save every business, with the province likely to hit a deficit of around $20 billion. The province reported 216 new cases on Saturday, for a total of 4,233. The death toll increased by one to 73. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan is reporting that seven of its eight new COVID-19 cases are in the province’s far north. In total, there were 349 cases in Saskatchewan on Saturday, and four people have died. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
WATCH | See how Saskatchewan plans to handle a phased reopening:
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe unveiled the province’s plan to start easing COVID-19 restrictions starting in May. 2:03
Manitoba is set to ramp up surgeries after a month of postponements due to COVID-19. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to be low enough that health officials say they can pivot some of the system’s resources back toward surgeries. The province reported four new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 267. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Ontario unions representing hundreds of paramedics and respiratory therapists say they’re frustrated after being left out of a $4 an hour “pandemic pay premium” given to workers on the front lines of the pandemic. Premier Ford announced the raise for 350,000 workers, including nurses, personal support workers, correctional workers and support staff, on Saturday. The raises apply to those who work in emergency shelters, supportive housing, youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Demonstrators gather during a protest to end the shutdown due to COVID-19 at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Saturday. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)
Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda has changed his guidance on masks, now recommending people wear them if they anticipate being in a situation where distancing isn’t possible. He said people should closely follow guidelines the government released yesterday for masks, including washing hands before putting one on and removing them. Arruda said people could make their own masks, as long as they are clean and have at least two layers of fabric. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
A paramedic opens the doors of an ambulance outside Notre-Dame-des-Anges seniors residence in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
New Brunswick has gone a week without any new cases of COVID-19. Only four people remain hospitalized, with none in intensive care. The province has already begun relaxing its lockdown, with outings allowed at golf courses, parks and beaches, as long as physical distancing remains in place. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
The driving range at Carman Creek Golf Course in Fredericton was busy on Saturday. (Gary Moore/CBC)
Nova Scotia is reporting six more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 22. Five deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality, while a man in his 80s with underlying medical conditions died in the Western Zone of the province. He was not a resident of a long-term care home. The province is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 865 confirmed cases. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
WATCH | Crisis in long-term care homes ‘unsurprising but tragic,’ says geriatrician:
Canada may have avoided the crisis in long-term care homes if they had been given more resources, says Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital. Stall says after watching COVID-19 events unfold in Europe, the situation in Canadian care homes is “unsurprising but tragic.” 7:41
Prince Edward Island is working on a plan to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions in May, but gatherings with people outside of one’s household still are not permitted for now, said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer. More details on P.E.I.’s plan to ease restrictions are expected in the coming week, said Premier Dennis King. P.E.I. has not reported a new case of COVID-19 since April 15. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced one new case on Saturday, after going a full week without any new COVID-19 cases. Five people are in hospital, including two people in intensive care. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
The Northwest Territories government is putting $5.1 million toward child-care support for health-care workers, front-line staff and essential workers responding to COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
Hawaii extended its stay-at-home order until the end of May, and California police closed a park because it got too crowded as U.S. states took divergent paths on when to reopen their economies and communities.
Even as aides develop plans to shift President Trump’s public emphasis from the virus to addressing the economic crisis it has caused, Dr. Anthony Fauci at the U.S. National Institutes of Health warned against moving too quickly.
“You hear a lot about the need and the desire to get back to normal. That’s understandable,” he said. “If we don’t get control of it, we will never get back to normal. I know we will, but we’ve got to do it correctly.”
Hawaii Gov. David Ige extended both the stay-at-home order and a mandatory quarantine for visitors through May 31. He warned of undoing progress if public places open up too early.
“This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation, and we want to return to normal,” he said in a statement.
A spring heat wave drove an uptick of people to California beaches, golf courses and trails. Police in Pacific Grove, about 135 kilometres south of San Francisco, said they had to close the picturesque Lovers Point Park and Beach because of a lack of physical distancing.
Officers on horseback patrolled closed Los Angeles beaches, trails and playgrounds to enforce distancing rules.
Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska cleared the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations. Some Alaska municipalities chose to keep stricter rules.
Russ Anderson, who owns four tattoo studios in south Georgia, said he “couldn’t get up out of my chair quick enough” when restrictions were lifted. His main shop served 50 or 60 customers Friday when it reopened, with customers and tattoo artists wearing masks, he said.
But Shawn Gingrich, CEO and founder of Lion’s Den Fitness, decided his Atlanta gym would remain closed for now.
“We’ve sacrificed so much already,” he said. “I feel like if we do this too soon, we’ll see a spike in cases, and we’re back to square one.”
People enjoy the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Saturday. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)
In Texas, Allison Scott said most customers of her women’s clothing store in a Dallas shopping mall seem to feel more comfortable having their purchases shipped.
“I want to be open more than anything, but I don’t think that society is ready to come out either,” she said.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, reported cases in the U.S. will soon surpass 940,000 and the death toll will hit 54,000.
A survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found Americans overwhelmingly support stay-at-home measures and other efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
Australia‘s government launched a controversial coronavirus tracing app on Sunday and promised to legislate privacy protections around it as authorities try to get the country and the economy back onto more normal footing.
The app, which is based on Singapore’s TraceTogether software, uses Bluetooth signals to log when people have been
close to one another. It has been criticized by civil liberties groups as an invasion of privacy.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work Monday, two weeks after he was discharged from a London hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Britain’s stand-in leader, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, resisted pressure on Sunday to explain how the government plans to ease a lockdown that has been in place for a month, warning that hasty action could result in a second peak of infections.
The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in hospitals across the United Kingdom has risen above 20,000, the latest data showed on Saturday, with the overall figure likely to be significantly higher once deaths in care homes and hospices are tallied.
A man walks past graffiti in London on Saturday. (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Russia could experience a spike in COVID-19 cases of if people flout lockdown measures during public holidays scheduled for early May, a top health official said on Sunday.
The number of cases in Russia began rising sharply this month, reaching more than 80,000 on Sunday after it recorded a record 6,361 new cases in the past day.
A supporter of the Russian Communist Party attends a ceremony to unveil a monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the town of Sayansk, Russia, on April 22. (Evgeny Kozyrev/Reuters)
Iran plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the coronavirus outbreak as restrictions on Iranians gradually ease, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.
Iran, one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the pandemic, will be divided up into white, yellow and red regions based on the number of infections and deaths, Rouhani said.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, now has no remaining cases in its hospitals, a health official told reporters on Sunday.
The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan and first emerged in late December before spreading quickly worldwide.
The city had reported 46,452 cases, 56 per cent of the national total. It saw 3,869 fatalities, or 84 per cent of China’s total.
The focus in China has since shifted to the northeast border province of Heilongjiang, which has seen large numbers of imported COVID-19 cases entering from Russia.
A resident talks with other people outside a makeshift barricade, which was built to control entry and exit to a residential compound on Saturday in Wuhan, China. (Getty Images)
Spain has reported its lowest daily death count for coronavirus infections in five weeks as its strict lockdown restrictions begin to pay dividends.
Spanish health authorities said Sunday that 288 people died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 23,190 since the start of the outbreak. It is the first time the daily death toll has fallen below 300 fatalities since March 20.
Shrieks of joy rang out in the country’s streets Sunday as children were allowed to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks.
A woman and three children pose for a photo in Valencia, Spain, on Sunday. (Jose Jordan/AFP via Getty Images)
Animals at two mink farms in the Netherlands have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture said Sunday that some staff at the two farms had earlier displayed symptoms of the disease “so it is assumed that these are human-to-animal infections.”
As a precaution, authorities are closing roads within 400 metres of the affected farms in North Brabant, which is the Dutch region the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
The minks are not the first animals infected with the virus. The findings come after positive tests in two pet cats in New York state and in some tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, adding to a small number of confirmed cases of the virus in animals worldwide.
Malta has had no new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time since the crisis began, and will start rolling back some of the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus in the coming days, the island nation’s health minister said on Sunday. Malta, with around half a million people, detected its first COVID-19 case on March 7 and since then has reported almost 450 cases. Four elderly patients with a number of medical complications have died.