The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

7.15 p.m. There are 64,922 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada, including 4,408 deaths, and 29,260 cases resolved, according to The Canadian Press.

This breaks down as follows (NOTE: Breakdown does not include numbers for Ontario, for which the Star does its own count. See entry for 5 p.m.):

Quebec: 35,238 confirmed (including 2,631 deaths, 8,673 resolved)Alberta: 6,017 confirmed (including 114 deaths, 3,809 resolved)British Columbia: 2,288 confirmed (including 126 deaths, 1,512 resolved)Nova Scotia: 1,007 confirmed (including 44 deaths, 708 resolved)Saskatchewan: 531 confirmed (including six deaths, 329 resolved)Manitoba: 272 confirmed (including seven deaths, 243 resolved), 11 presumptiveNewfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including three deaths, 244 resolved)New Brunswick: 120 confirmed (including 118 resolved)Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 26 resolved)Repatriated Canadians account for 13 confirmed cases, all of which have been resolvedYukon: 11 confirmed, all of which have been resolvedNorthwest Territories: five confirmed, all of which have been resolvedNunavut reports no confirmed cases.

5 p.m. Ontario’s regional health units are reporting another 47 deaths from COVID-19 and a rise in new cases amid an increase in testing, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 20,531 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 1,590 deaths.

The 499 new cases reported province-wide since the same time Wednesday evening was the most the Star has counted in a day since May 1, but is consistent with past counts in which jumps in new cases have tended to follow spikes in testing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will send the provinces and territories $4 billion to increase the wages of essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the details are still to be finalized with some provinces, which will be expected to add their own money to the program as well. But Trudeau says all the country’s first ministers agree that front-line workers who are risking their health and make minimum wage deserve a raise. It will be up to each province to decide which workers count as “essential” and will get a top-up.

Earlier Thursday, the province reported an increase in completed COVID-19 tests, once again passing 15,000 in a day. The total was up after two days of fewer completed tests, although still not at the 16,000-test target demanded by Premier Doug Ford.

Still, the overall trend continues to see slower growth in cases; the jump of 499 cases since Wednesday morning represented a low 2.5-per-cent increase, a daily rate down sharply from the fastest growth in March.

In the second half of that month, the province saw an average daily growth of 20 per cent, a rate that doubled Ontario’s case count about every four days. In the first half of April, that rate slowed to an average of 9.5-per-cent daily growth, and the second half of the month averaged about 4 per cent, or a doubling time of around two-and-a-half weeks.

Meantime, Ontario’s public health units continue to report large numbers of new deaths; as the rate of new cases has fallen in recent weeks, the trend in the daily count of new deaths continues to rise.

Because many health units publish tallies to their websites before reporting to Public Health Ontario, the Star’s count is more current than the data the province puts out each morning.

Earlier Thursday, the province said 1,033 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 220 in intensive care, of whom 155 are on a ventilator — numbers that have fluctuated, but remained largely flat in recent weeks. The province also says more than 13,500 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered from the disease. This is about two-thirds of the total infected.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths, 1,477, may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count, includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

4.38 p.m. As Toronto begins to loosen the COVID-19 restrictions that have kept residents close to home for much of the past two months, the TTC is bracing for the increase in ridership that’s expected to accompany the city’s recovery from the crisis, the Star’s Ben Spur reports.

Experts and other jurisdictions have pursued ideas such as directing all passengers to wear masks, modifying stations to allow for social distancing, and asking employers to stagger shifts to push travel demand outside of traditional rush hours.

4.21 p.m. Reported cases of COVID-19 globally have moved toward the four-million mark, with deaths approaching 270,000, The Canadian Press reports. The U.S. accounts for more than a quarter of both totals.

3.52 p.m. There are 64,835 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada, including 4,404 deaths, and 28,985 cases resolved, according to The Canadian Press.

This breaks down as follows:

Quebec: 35,238 confirmed (including 2,631 deaths, 8,673 resolved)Ontario: 19,121 confirmed (including 1,477 deaths, 13,569 resolved)Alberta: 5,963 confirmed (including 112 deaths, 3,552 resolved)British Columbia: 2,255 confirmed (including 124 deaths, 1,494 resolved)Nova Scotia: 1,007 confirmed (including 44 deaths, 708 resolved)Saskatchewan: 531 confirmed (including six deaths, 329 resolved)Manitoba: 272 confirmed (including seven deaths, 243 resolved), 11 presumptiveNewfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including three deaths, 244 resolved)New Brunswick: 120 confirmed (including 118 resolved)Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 26 resolved)Repatriated Canadians account for 13 confirmed and all have been resolvedYukon: 11 confirmed and all have been resolvedNorthwest Territories: five confirmed and all have been resolvedNunavut reports no confirmed cases.

3.45 p.m. Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health for the City of Toronto, said there are 249 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and 4,364 people have recovered. She did not provide new numbers on hospitalizations and deaths.

De Villa said the public health board is analyzing whether certain groups are affected by the virus more than others.

Findings show cases are higher in poorer parts of the city and parts populated by immigrants, she said.

De Villa agreed said the board agreed on the need to balance #COVID19 precautions with other health needs, and will weigh this balance while gradually easing restrictions provided physical distancing is maintained.

Asked by Francine Kopun of the Toronto Star, if stores in malls with store frontage will be allowed to open for curbside service this Monday, City officials were unsure, and said the Provincial government is responsible for this. It falls to store-owners and the public to react responsibility, they added.

Mayor Tory said businesses can adopt measures to avoid crowding and line-ups such as scheduling pick-ups for purchases.

De Villa said the City needs to continue monitoring data to decide if it should ease public health measures or slow things down.

Addressing the cancellation of Google’s Sidewalk Labs Quayside waterfront project, Mayor John Tory expressed regret and understanding: “Sometimes business deals just don’t end up happening.”

Tory said the fundamentals that attracted Google to locate the project here will remain when the city reopens. The company has said it remains committed to Toronto, he said.

Tory called on emergency funding for Toronto and other cities from provincial and federal governments. The impact of COVID on Toronto’s finances is “brutal,” at $65 million per week in lost revenue and extra expenses.

The mayor notes that there’s already been a tax increase this year higher than in past years to pay for transit and housing costs, so it is a bad idea to hit property taxpayers again. Toronto needs federal help, he said.

The mayor said there are “active discussions,” involving the Province and feds, but there is no firm word from them yet.

All 300 staff at seven emergency child-care centres are being tested for #COVID19. This includes Jesse Ketchum Centre, which suffered an outbreak and was closed. At Jesse Ketchum, 13 staff have tested positive, 34 negative, and 19 are awaiting results. Seven children tested positive, 20 negative, and about 30 are awaiting results.

3.22 p.m. Theatre impresario David Mirvish has announced that “Hamilton” will return to Toronto to resume the engagement that was cut short on March 13. The goal is to return within 18 months from now. The exact dates are being determined, but it is the producers’ intention to restart “Hamilton” in Toronto at their earliest opportunity, Mirvish said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will send the provinces and territories $4 billion to increase the wages of essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the details are still to be finalized with some provinces, which will be expected to add their own money to the program as well. But Trudeau says all the country’s first ministers agree that front-line workers who are risking their health and make minimum wage deserve a raise. It will be up to each province to decide which workers count as “essential” and will get a top-up.

3 p.m.: New data reveals the overwhelming toll on elderly Canadians in long-term care during the COVID-19 outbreak, showing they make up 82 per cent of all deaths.

The National Institute on Aging says that as of Wednesday, there were 3,436 resident deaths and six staff deaths for a total of 3,442 deaths across long-term care and residential nursing home settings across Canada. That represents 82 per cent of the 4,167 Canadian deaths reported Wednesday.

Read the story from the Star’s Tonda MacCharles.

2:30 p.m.: Footwear retailer Aldo Group Inc. began a court restructuring process Thursday after the pandemic shuttered stores and worsened the company’s already-struggling business.

The Montreal-based company operates about 3,000 stores worldwide.

2:15 p.m.: That overnight trip to High Park to climb a cherry blossom tree came with a $1,150 price tag.

Toronto police issued three tickets to the man caught on the city’s ‘BloomCam” climbing the tree in the early morning hours Monday.

2:10 p.m.: Manitoba health officials are reporting no new COVID-19 cases and say one earlier probable case has turned out to not be COVID-19. The total to date is 283 cases.

And with more people recovering, the number of active cases has dropped to 33.

1:45 p.m.: The waiting list for surgeries in British Columbia has grown to 93,000 with one-third of those added during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The B.C. government says it will take 17 to 24 months to clear a backlog of 30,000 patients, and that’s only if there’s not a resurgence of the pandemic.

It says an additional 24,000 surgical cases weren’t even added to the waiting list since the shutdown and it will be impossible to catch up without significant changes in the health-care system.

The changes being implemented include new screening processes for COVID-19, hiring 400 more operating room nurses, pushing operating rooms to full capacity and turning to private clinics.

1:10 p.m.: The Manitoba government is boosting infrastructure spending and cutting some environmental funding to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Brian Pallister says the government will spend an extra $500 million over the next two years on roads, bridges, and water and sewer projects.

Pallister says the cash will stimulate an economy that has been hurt by the pandemic and comes on top of $3 billion previously planned.

Meanwhile, The Green Action Centre, a Winnipeg-based non-profit, says it is out $200,000 and will have a hard time maintaining its waste reduction program after cuts were announced to some environmental groups.

1 p.m.: Patients awaiting word on when they will get scheduled surgeries and procedures postponed over fears COVID-19 would overwhelm Ontario hospitals are a step closer to getting answers.

But there are no dates provided in a provincial framework released Thursday clearing hospitals to start planning a “gradual resumption” of non-emergency services such as hip replacements, cataract and some cancer surgeries that have been delayed.

Read the story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson.

12:55 p.m.: The country’s deputy chief public health officer says there’s no “right” number of COVID-19 tests to do each day.

Dr. Howard Njoo says testing numbers are moving targets, depending on local circumstances.

Njoo told a press briefing in Ottawa that as governments begin lifting anti-pandemic restrictions, the need for testing will generally rise, but it’s impossible to set an exact target.

He said needs will be different if someone tests positive in a dense urban centre and has encountered many other people, versus someone who lives alone in an isolated place.

12:55 p.m.: Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed two more cases of COVID-19, one which is linked to an outbreak at an Alberta worksite.

The province has confirmed 261 cases of the illness and 244 people have recovered.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Janice Fitzgerald says ebbs and flows in the number of cases is to be expected, adding that the increase speaks to the importance of following preventive measures like physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Fitzgerald addressed an outbreak in the Alberta oilsands, saying workers at the Horizon and Kearl Lake sites who returned to the province since April 12 should isolate for 14 days and contact public health to be tested.

12:50 p.m.: New Brunswick is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 today. The number of confirmed cases in the province remains at 120.

There are two active cases and 118 people have recovered. None of the active cases are in hospital.

As of Thursday, 16,625 tests have been conducted.

12:50 p.m.: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to address reporters at his daily briefing. A live newstream of his news conference will be available at thestar.com

12:40 p.m.: Dr. Theresa Tam says it’s a bad idea to go to a cottage or a second home if you risk straining local health resources.

Rules and advice on how to apply that will vary from province to province and situation to situation, though.

Tam says part of the concern is about spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, and part is about simply having too many people heading to places that don’t have the local hospital capacity to treat them if they got sick.

12:35 p.m.: Nova Scotia is reporting three more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 44.

Health officials say the deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, where the majority of the deaths in the outbreak have occurred.

Nine new cases of the virus have been identified for a total of 1,007 confirmed cases.

12:25 p.m.: Governor General Julie Payette says the lessons being learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will be useful for potential upcoming crises.

Payette points out that natural disasters, like volcanic eruptions or asteroids, could cause major disruptions to life in Canada.

She suggests science could help foresee those catastrophes and the country would have time to plan and react.

Payette, a former astronaut, says one of the things she learned from her past job is to spend a lot of time planning when things are quiet so everyone is ready to work together when “all hell breaks loose.”

12:20 p.m.: Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada has conducted its millionth test for COVID-19, and about six per cent of the people tested have been confirmed as positive cases.

Nearly half of those who tested positive are considered recovered at this point, but more than 4,000 people have died of the illness.

The country’s chief public health officer says mental health is a growing concern amid the pandemic, but one thing that helps many people is feeling as though they’re helping and making a difference.

For children, she says being creative and cheering people up with art can achieve that.

11:40 a.m. (updated): Ontario’s regional health units are reporting another 64 deaths from COVID-19 and an uptick in new cases amid an increase in testing, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 20,087 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 1,552 deaths.

The 472 new cases reported provincewide since the same time Wednesday morning was up more than 150 from the previous day’s tally, although still in line with long-term trends.

Earlier Thursday, the province reported an increase in completed COVID-19 tests, once again passing 15,000 in a day. The total was up after two days of fewer completed tests, although still not at the 16,000-test target demanded by Premier Doug Ford.

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Increases in new cases per day have tended to follow spikes in testing.

Still: The overall trend continues to see slower growth in cases. The jump of 472 cases since Wednesday morning represented a low 2.4 per cent increase, a daily rate that is down sharply from the fastest growth in March.

In the second half of that month, the province saw an average daily growth of 20 per cent, a rate that doubled Ontario’s case count about every four days. In the first half of April, that rate slowed to an average of 9.5 per cent daily growth, and the second half of the month averaged about 4 per cent, or a doubling time of around two-and-a-half weeks.

Meantime, Ontario’s public health units continue to report large numbers of new deaths; as the rate of new cases has fallen in recent weeks, the trend in the daily count of new deaths continues to rise.

Because many health units publish tallies to their websites before reporting to Public Health Ontario, the Star’s count is more current than the data the province puts out each morning.

Earlier Thursday, the province said 1,033 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 220 in intensive care, of whom 155 are on a ventilator — numbers that have fluctuated but remained largely flat in recent weeks. The province also says more than 13,500 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered from the disease — about two-thirds of the total infected.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 1,477 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count, includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

11:30 a.m.: The province is reporting five more deaths at Meighen Manor, pushing the overall total to 42 at the long-term-care home in midtown Toronto.

There are 106 active cases at the 168-bed home run by Salvation Army, near Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue, according to the latest numbers published by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

The latest figures show the facility has 61 residents and 45 staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Star reported last month on the efforts by two nurses there to warn executives about the outbreak.

11:30 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says cushioning the economic impact of the pandemic is the government’s top priority and he’s not worrying too much for now about how to deal with the costs.

He says there will be plenty of time to talk about the longer-term economic recovery later.

Trudeau says the pandemic has revealed problems that hadn’t received enough attention, such as the plight of vulnerable workers, that will also need to be dealt with.

He says the government will think about green measures, the digital economy, poverty and other ways that Canada can “build back better.”

11:14 a.m.: Trudeau says the federal government will send the provinces and territories $4 billion to increase the wages of essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the details are still to be finalized with some provinces, which will be expected to add their own money to the program as well.

But Trudeau says all the country’s first ministers agree that front-line workers who are risking their health and make minimum wage deserve a raise.

It will be up to each province to decide which workers count as “essential” and will get a top-up.

11 a.m.: Trudeau is expected to brief reporters at his daily briefing. A livestream of his news conference is available at thestar.com

10:45 a.m.: The Defence Minister won’t say how many Canadian Armed Forces members are ill with COVID-19. Harjit Sajjan says for operational reasons, the military won’t release the number.

Upwards of 1,000 personnel are deployed in long-term care facilities, and hundreds elsewhere in Canada.

10:35 a.m.: Ontario is reporting that the number of people in hospital on ventilators dropped from 174 to 155. The province also reported that 15,179 patients were tested Wednesday. It’s still shy of the daily target of 16,000 that’s expected to get a better picture of the virus’s spread.

10:20 a.m.: Sidewalk Labs is packing up and leaving Toronto after a long, fraught and ultimately failed attempt to build a sensor-laden high-tech neighbourhood on the east downtown waterfront.

The stunning news, coming as Toronto starts to reopen after much of the city’s economy was shut down by the global COVID-19 pandemic, will be mourned by many and cheered by privacy advocates and others who tried the kill the deal.

Read the breaking news story from the Star’s David Rider.

10:10 a.m.: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says as of today, the Canadian Armed Forces will have 1,020 personnel committed to 20 long-term care homes in Quebec.

He says that includes 670 medical and support staff inside the facilities, as well as 350 members providing outside support such as delivering personal protective equipment.

Sajjan says by mid-May, more than 1,350 Forces members will be helping in 25 of the province’s long-term care homes.

There are also 265 Forces personnel assisting at five facilities in Ontario.

Canadian Forces members are also helping in rural and remote regions doing in contact tracing, medical equipment delivery and other tasks.

10 a.m.: Doug Ford’s retail reopening is gambling on Torontonians. So how will pent-up residents react? Read the column from the Star’s Bruce Arthur.

8:21 a.m.: Quebec provincial police say they’ve arrested two people in connection with a spate of cell phone tower fires in recent days.

Police say the pair, in their 20s, will be questioned following the arrests early today in Ste-Adele, northwest of Montreal.

False narratives around 5G — the fifth-generation technology standard for cellphone companies — and COVID-19 have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, leading to attacks on towers across Europe.

8:12 a.m.: Ontario will reveal plan today to resume scheduled and elective surgeries postponed as hospitals braced for a surge of COVID-19 patients, the Star’s Rob Ferguson reports.

8 a.m.: Premier Doug Ford has decreed that cottagers should enjoy their seasonal residences on the Victoria Day weekend that starts May 15 – in restrained fashion.

In a statement Thursday after a conference call with rural mayors, the premier implored Ontarians to play it safe and responsible by not socializing or making too many pit stops en route.

“We are still battling a terrible virus, so we are asking seasonal residents travelling to their cottages to practise the same public health measures as usual, including no public gatherings, avoiding non-essential travel as much as possible, and continue to practise social distancing.”

Ford emphasized that that the mayors appealed to him to discourage day trippers from visiting Muskoka, Haliburton, and other bucolic regions.

Some rural mayors have been urging city dwellers to stay away because there have been relatively few coronavirus cases outside the Greater Toronto Area and other urban centres and they fear small-town hospitals could be swamped.

7:38 a.m. Greyhound Canada has announced a temporary shutdown of its bussing and service operations effective May 12 due to the pandemic. Ridership has declined 95 per cent amid COVID-19. The closure will affect 400 jobs. The company says it cannot continue operations without federal and provincial government support.

“We are facing unprecedented times that have caused a significant decline in demand,” Greyhound said in statement.

7:15 a.m. France will lay out its plan to roll back lockdown measures, joining countries including Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in easing restrictions as the economic pain from the fallout of the coronavirus intensifies.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to unveil final details of his plan to end curbs on public life later on Thursday. The country is preparing to go back to work and reopen schools starting on Monday in a gradual process designed to avoid a second wave of infections.

Despite more than 140,000 deaths on the continent, European leaders are feeling the heat to accelerate a return to normality and are trying to walk a fine line between reactivating the economy and avoiding a renewed outbreak.

The economic damage is becoming increasingly evident, with a 9.2 per cent decline in March industrial production in Germany and a 16.2 per cent drop in France. The crippling impact from just half a month of factory closures sets up even grimmer figures for April, when millions of people were all but confined to their homes across the continent.

7:13 a.m.: Just over a week after news broke that the CFL has asked the federal government for up to $150 million in assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie is to testify at the House of Commons standing committee on finance.

Ambrosie will appear via videoconference during a panel on arts, culture, sports and charitable organizations.

The CFL’s request sparked debate about whether professional sports leagues should be entitled to federal funds during the COVID-19 crisis.

A day after the CFL’s request became public last Tuesday, the Canadian Premier League confirmed it was asking for $25 million from the federal government. The professional soccer league began play last season.

6:21 a.m.: The British government says a shipment of personal protective equipment from Turkey intended to help ease supply problems is sitting in a warehouse because it does not meet U.K. standards.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the 400,000 medical gowns are not “of the quality that we feel is good enough for our front-line staff” treating coronavirus patients.

The shipment has become an embarrassment for the British government since a minister announced on April 18 that it would arrive the next day. It was four days before a Royal Air Force plane was able to fly the cargo to the U.K.

6:16 a.m.: China is firing back at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that there is “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, accusing him of “making up lies and covering up a lie by fabricating more lies.”

The strong language from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a Thursday briefing came as President Donald Trump and his allies continue to express confidence in an unsubstantiated theory linking the origin of the outbreak to a possible accident at a Chinese lab. U.S. officials say they are still exploring the subject and describe the evidence as purely circumstantial. But Trump, aides say, has embraced the notion to further highlight China’s lack of transparency.

“Under the situation that no scientists and experts can even draw any conclusions, why did Secretary Pompeo want to rush to the conclusion to hold the Wuhan laboratory accountable? Where is his evidence?,” Hua told reporters, while defending the integrity of the Wuhan lab. “Show us. If he can’t, is he still in the middle of concocting this so-called evidence?”

5:31 a.m.: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa has surpassed 50,000 and deaths have surpassed 2,000. That’s according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Africa now has 51,698 cases, but the widespread shortage of testing materials means the actual number is unknown.

South Africa has the most virus cases with more than 7,800 but has been testing assertively with more than 10,000 tests carried out per day.

All but one of Africa’s 54 countries, tiny Lesotho, have confirmed cases.

5:31 a.m.: Russian health officials reported more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — a record daily spike which brought the country’s total over 177,000 confirmed cases.

Russia’s official caseload has thus surpassed that of Germany and France, becoming the 5th largest in the world. The actual number of cases is likely to be much higher as not everybody is getting tested and many people infected with the virus don’t show any symptoms.

Last week, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin suggested in his blog that as many as 2% of Moscow’s 12.7 million population — more than 200,000 people — may be infected with the coronavirus. Moscow has currently registered about 93,000 confirmed cases.

5:05 a.m.: The Bank of England has warned that the British economy could be nearly a third smaller by the end of the first half of this year than it was at the start of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In forecasts published today, the bank said the British economy would shrink by about 25 per cent in the second quarter of the year, but would then start to recover as lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.

4 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today cost-sharing agreements with a number of provinces to top up the wages of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those agreements are expected to involve a transfer of federal funds to the provinces, each of which will be able to decide for itself which essential workers most need a pay boost.

The flexible agreements are intended to allow provinces to tailor the program to suit their different needs.

Wednesday 10:40 p.m.: Four children have contracted COVID-19 at a city-run daycare in Yorkville, said Toronto medical officer of health Eileen de Villa.

Eleven staff at the Jesse Ketchum Child Care Centre have also tested positive, she said at the city’s daily briefing on the pandemic.

“My understanding is that they are all doing well and recovering without incident at home,” she told reporters.

Wednesday 10 p.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those setting fire to cellphone towers can face serious criminal charges.

“Vandalizing cellphone towers does nothing but threaten emergency services and impact the daily lives of Canadians across the country,” he wrote on Twitter. “These recent acts are serious criminal offences and carry severe penalties.”

The warning came after at least four cellphone towers were set on fire in Quebec over the span of a few days.

A spokeswoman for the town of Prevost, Que., where a Rogers-operated tower was hit Monday, said in recent weeks that residents have brought up unfounded conspiracy theories linking 5G technology to COVID-19.

Wednesday 6:15 p.m.: B.C. Premier John Horgan has announced the first stages of a gradual reopening plan for the province’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic — including opening parks for day use, opening schools on a voluntary basis, and allowing small social gatherings.

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic reopening plan came Wednesday on the tail of plans released in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and while Quebec is already planning a return to school for kids this month.

“We’ve put in place a plan that has slowed the growth of the virus and put us in pace for a safe restart of the economy,” Horgan said. “The good news is we’re already at Phase 1. That is because B.C. did not fully shut down.”

Click here to read more of Wednesday’s coverage.



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