The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.
5.58 p.m. There are 66,407 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 4,568 deaths, and 30,192 resolved, according to The Canadian Press.
This breaks down as follows (note: the Star does its own count for Ontario, which can be seen under the entry at 5 p.m.):
Quebec: 36,150 confirmed (including 2,725 deaths, 8,928 resolved)Ontario: 19,598 confirmed (including 1,540 deaths, 13,990 resolved)Alberta: 6,098 confirmed (including 115 deaths, 4,020 resolved)British Columbia: 2,288 confirmed (including 126 deaths, 1,512 resolved)Nova Scotia: 1,008 confirmed (including 46 deaths, 722 resolved)Saskatchewan: 544 confirmed (including six deaths, 355 resolved)Manitoba: 273 confirmed (including seven deaths, 247 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 27 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.
5:57 p.m. The federal government has suspended shipments of N95 masks from a Montreal-based supplier after about eight million masks made in China failed to meet specifications.
The office of Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that of the nearly 11 million masks received from the distributor, about one million met federal standards and another 1.6 million masks are still being tested.
The department says none of the approximately eight million masks that did not meet federal standards were distributed for medical use, though assessment continues for other uses.
5 p.m.: Ontario’s regional health units are reporting another 58 deaths from COVID-19, as the daily rate of new fatalities continues to rise, while the rate of new cases appears to be falling slowly.
Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 20,948 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 1,648 deaths.
The 417 new cases reported province-wide since the same time Thursday evening was down from the daily total the day prior, even as the province once again reported an increase in completed tests.
Earlier Friday, the province reported it had completed 16,295. This surpassed a target set by Premier Doug Ford after tests rates fell earlier this week.
Still, the overall trend continues to reflect slower growth in cases. The jump of 417 cases, or 1.9 per cent, since Thursday evening once again fell below a 2-per-cent daily increase, a daily rate down sharply from the fastest growth, in March.
That month, the province saw an average daily growth of nearly 20 per cent, a rate that doubled Ontario’s case count about every four days. In April, that rate slowed to an average of 6.5 per cent daily growth, or a doubling time of around 11 days. So far, in May, the average has fallen to less than 2.5 per cent, a rate that would double the case count in about a month.
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 Friday, the province said 1,028 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 213 in intensive care, of whom 166 are on a ventilator. These numbers have fluctuated, but remained largely flat in recent weeks. The province also says nearly 14,000 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, 1,540, 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.
3.45 p.m. Toronto has 108 new cases of COVID-19, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health. De Villa made no mention of deaths from the virus.
“We’ve saved hundreds of lives, or more,” Mayor John Tory said of the co-operation of citizens in following measures to fight the virus.
“I believe neighbours and neighbourhoods have become closer.”
De Villa urged stores to maintain physical distancing among staff and customers as they begin curbside pickup on Monday.
Where stores cannot ensure this, people should wear masks, she said.
Tory urged retailers permitted to open to ensure physical distancing measures are in place and to plan ahead for their reopening.
“We’ve come too far together to endure any setbacks,” Tory says. “I don’t want to see the doors of our businesses open only to see them close again.
Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who is leading Toronto’s emergency response to COVID-19, said he hopes retailers will follow the lead of grocery stores, which have successfully shown how to manage physical distancing.
Mayor Tory said businesses should avoid holding sales and promotions that will create crowds.
Tory urged commercial landlords to come to some arrangement with tenants to defer rent, otherwise the Ford government may ban commercial evictions as, Tory said, he had been urging it to.
De Villa urged Torontonians not to make visits on Mother’s Day and to find a way to celebrate the day in another form.
“It’s hard not to visit. I plan to order takeout and drop it off and we will celebrate, on FaceTime, a virtual brunch.”
Given the relatively low levels of TTC ridership, Tory said the City was not going to insist riders wear masks as the union had asked it to. But, he said, he would review the matter as ridership increased.
De Villa said a personal support worker in his 60s, employed by an agency serving a community housing corporation building, died from COVID-19 complications on May 6. She added that it has been determined that protocols in place at the facility exceed current standards.
Pegg said the City will begin supplying personal protective equipment directly to shelters, drop-in centres and meal centres, pointing out that obtaining PPE has proven difficult for them.
2:35 p.m.: Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says there will be no return to school this year.
McNeil says teachers will work to complete assessments until the end of June, but students will not be returning to the classroom.
He says a decision on whether daycares will reopen will be made by June 8.
2:16 p.m.: Manitoba health officials are reporting one new case of COVID-19. The person is connected to a small cluster of seven previously announced cases at a workplace in the western part of the province.
The new case brings the total in the province to 284. With more people recovering, the number of active cases has dropped to 30.
1:58 p.m.: New Brunswick is allowing more businesses and services to open as it launches the next phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan.
Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and campgrounds can open immediately under certain conditions.
Those include having an operational plan that explains how they are meeting public health guidelines including physical distancing, hand hygiene and allowing staff to remain home when ill.
Two-household “bubbles” remain in place, but now outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are also allowed if physical distancing is respected.
1:50 p.m.: Prince Edward Island now has no active cases of COVID-19.
The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Heather Morrison, says all 27 of the province’s confirmed cases are now considered recovered.
She says as a result, members of a household can now gather indoors with up to five other people.
Other precautions, such as physical distancing, handwashing and self-isolation for anyone who has travelled in the past two weeks, remain in place.
1:30 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford, who stresses he is “a terrible golfer,” says golf courses are lobbying him hard to reopen soon, but he is awaiting the chief medical officer’s advice. Will be based on safety.
1:25 p.m.: Ford says any tests for NHL players coming back to Toronto will be provided by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the costs will be paid by MLSE. The parent organization for the Leafs and the Raptors will also be donating its testing area for the public’s usage, according to Ford.
1:10 p.m.: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says the reopening of Canadian society following the COVID-19 pandemic will have to be very careful and gradual.
She says Canadians understand that the biggest mistake would be to squander all of their efforts to date.
She says Canada is making good progress, but there is a ways to go.
1:10 p.m.: Quebec health officials say there are 94 new deaths linked to COVID-19 today, bringing the provincial tally to 2,725.
The province also announced 912 new cases, bringing the number of people infected to 36,150.
However, the number of hospitalizations was down by nine to 1,827 and the number of people being treated in intensive care was reduced by 17 to 207.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, is in Montreal today to talk about the plan for testing in the region hardest hit by COVID-19.
1 p.m.: There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are 261 confirmed cases in the province and 244 people have recovered.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says people need to continue staying home as much as possible and maintain safe distances as the province begins easing some measures Monday.
1:05 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford says “today’s job numbers weigh heavily on my heart.” More than 1 million jobs lost in Ontario in the pandemic.
12:58 p.m.: Ford is expected to address reporters at his daily briefing. A livestream of his news conference is available at thestar.com
12:45 p.m.: The Manitoba government is lifting its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies.
The limit was imposed in March as a way to ensure there would be no shortage of prescription drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen says as of Monday, people will be able to get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days, which was the previous limit.
The government is also establishing a working group with pharmacists that will look at whether some drugs should be temporarily limited in the future to 30 days due to supply shortages.
12:37 p.m. (updated): Montreal’s transit authority is strongly recommending that passengers wear a mask when riding the bus or subway.
As it prepares for a gradual lifting of the lockdown in Montreal, the authority said today it will hand out 600,000 reusable masks to users and supply employees with two washable face coverings each.
Philippe Schnobb, the chairman of the Montreal Transit Corp., says the agency doesn’t have manpower to enforce a mandatory mask rule on its network.
The recommendation is in keeping with one from Quebec health authorities to wear a mask in situations where keeping a two-metre physical distance from others isn’t possible.
Schnobb says buses will be outfitted with a physical barrier to protect drivers, and passengers will be encouraged to enter through the front and exit through the rear of the bus.
Extra staff is also being assigned to cleaning tasks to maintain COVID-19 hygiene measures.
The union representing 12,000 Toronto Transit Commission workers today is also calling on the City of Toronto to make it mandatory for TTC riders to wear face masks or face coverings on local public transit.
“The math is straightforward — as more businesses reopen, more people will be taking public transit with less TTC vehicles on the road,” said Carlos Santos, ATU Local 113 President. “The City of Toronto must protect workers and the public by making face coverings mandatory on the TTC.”
11:22 a.m. (updated): The federal government’s emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended beyond its early-June end point.
The program covers 75 per cent of worker pay up to $847 a week to try to help employers keep employees on the job in the face of steep declines in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more details on the extension will come next week.
11:20 a.m.: Ontario public health units are reporting a 2.3 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, or 459 cases, to a total of 20,546. According to the Star’s tally, 44 more have died for a total of 1,596. (More details to come)
11:15 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to address reporters at his daily briefing. A livestream of his news conference will be available at thestar.com
10:55 a.m.: Nova Scotia is reporting two more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 46.
Health officials say the deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term-care home in Halifax, which has recorded 40 deaths as a result of an outbreak at the facility.
The province is reporting one new case of the virus today bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,008.
To date, there have been 32,835 negative test results, while 722 people have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.
10:45 a.m.: The Toronto Raptors say players will be allowed access to the OVO Athletic Centre starting next week for individual workouts.
Though NBA guidelines allow for four players at a time in practice facilities, the Raptors say they will have just one player at a time in the building near the CNE.
Each player will be accompanied by one coach, and there will be no overlap between groups.
The Raptors say they made the move by working closely with local government, infectious disease experts and public health authorities.
Read the story from the Star’s Doug Smith.
10:22 a.m. (updated): A union representing health care workers in long-term care homes says the province wants to change a directive which gives all workers access to N95 masks.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario says the provincial government has asked for discussionsto begin about removing access from the provincial rules because it believes the masks aren’t necessary.
The union says the N95 masks block aerosolized virus particles and offer better protection than surgical masks currently in use. But the union also says that the N95 masks are not widely available to workers despite the provincial rule.
More than 1,600 workers in the province’s long-term care homes have tested positive for COVID-19 and a personal support worker in Orleans, Ont. died from the virus earlier this week.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the health and safety of Ontarians and front-line health workers is the government’s top priority.
“Following recent court decisions related to Directive #5, we have initiated conversations with all labour union partners to address how we can ensure workers remain protected, while being mindful that the global supply chain for personal protective equipment continues to be extremely strained,” Hayley Chazan said in a statement.
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“As part of these discussions, we are collectively looking at how we may overcome these supply chain challenges, including through domestic production opportunities and the safe reprocessing of supplies.”
9:45 a.m.: A fifth personal support worker has died from COVID-19 in Ontario.
Leonard Rodriquez, 61, had been working at Access Independent Living Services when he was sent home on April 6 due to possible exposure to the virus. His symptoms worsened while he was self-isolating at home and later tested positive for the virus, his union said in a statement.
Access Independent Living Services has two locations in North York and one in Scarborough.
“I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Leonard’s family, as well as his union sisters and brothers who are working for Access Independent Living Services,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “Leonard worked for more than 30 years providing care for those in need. He’ll be truly be missed by his Unifor family and all those who knew him.”
A personal support worker at Ottawa’s Madonna Community Care Centre died from COVID-19. Three others have died in Toronto.
9:30 a.m.: Grand celebrations planned to mark the 75th anniversary of victory in Europe, or VE-Day, on May 8 — when Nazi Germany formally surrendered to the Allies — have been waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Veterans Affairs postponed plans to send a veterans delegation to the Netherlands. Events such as candlelight ceremonies at cenotaphs across Canada have been cancelled.
Read the story from the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.
9:05 a.m.: Days after urging Ontarians not to go to their cottages, Premier Doug Ford made a quick Easter visit to his Muskoka seasonal residence.
On Friday, Ford’s office said that “on the morning of Easter Sunday, the premier drove alone to his family property up north to check on the plumbing as the property is under construction and has been over the past two years.”
“He spent less than an hour there and on his travel he didn’t stop anywhere and he didn’t interact with anyone,” the premier’s office said.
Read the story from the Star’s Robert Benzie.
8:55 a.m. (updated): An employee at a Brampton-based meat plant has died after contracting coronavirus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers.
UFCW Locals 175 and 633, which represents more than 70,000 workers across Ontario, confirmed an employee from the Maple Lodge Farms chicken processing plant has died. The union was notified of the death on Thursday.
To date, 25 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, according to both the union and the company.
8:43 a.m.: The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 devastated the economy and forced businesses to shutter temporarily.
The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March.
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate soared to 13.0 per cent as the full force of the pandemic hit compared with 7.8 per cent in March.
It was the second highest unemployment rate on record.
Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Read the story from the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.
8:15 a.m.: Family members with loved ones at a Mississauga a long-term-care home are growing increasingly anxious as the number of deaths at the facility continue to rise.
As of Thursday, Camilla Care Community is reporting 48 residents under their care have died from COVID-19.
“We are sadly grieving the loss of the 48 residents who had tested positive for COVID-19 and who passed away since the beginning of the outbreak, throughout the last few weeks. We extend our deepest condolences to the families for their loss. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones at this time,” said a spokesperson for Sienna Senior Living, which oversees Camilla.
7:20 a.m. Toronto-Dominion Bank says it expects to take a provision for credit losses related to its U.S. retail banking business of roughly $1.1 billion in its second quarter due to the pandemic.
The charge related to funds set aside to cover potentially bad loans comes as the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 has devastated the economy and thrown millions of people out of work.
The bank says it is also expected that the corporate segment will record about $600 million in provisions for credit losses for the quarter ended April 30.
However, it says the losses in the corporate segment consists primarily of the retailer partners’ share of provisions for credit losses for the bank’s U.S. strategic card portfolio.
7:04 a.m.: Spain reported 1,095 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the biggest increase in nearly a week, as the country goes through the first phase of a plan to relax its lockdown after eight weeks of confinement.
The total number of cases, adjusted to include changes in data for the Madrid region, rose to 222,857, according to Health Ministry data. Fatalities rose by 229 to 26,299. That compares with an increase of 213 on Thursday.
The government on Friday is set to approve a new extension of the national state of emergency through May 23, after parliament authorized it on Wednesday. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said that enhanced powers are needed to co-ordinate the country’s health services — under normal circumstances 17 regional governments run health care separately.
The country may be facing a patchy return to what Sanchez has dubbed the “new normal,” as regions still must individually seek authorization for their provinces to move to the next phase in gradually easing confinement measures.
6:03 a.m.: South Korea’s K-League season kicked off Friday with Jeonbuk Motors hosting Suwon Bluewings in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju.
Foreign interest is suddenly high in the oldest professional soccer league in East Asia, with broadcasters from at least 17 countries recently obtaining rights for the competition and taking the live feed for some games as far away as Germany, India and Australia.
“There had been some interest in the K-League before but the number has surged after the announcement of the league starting,” K-League president Kwon Oh-gap told The Associated Press. “We have completed contracts with a number of countries and are negotiating with other broadcasters.”
While international audiences will be higher than ever for the 12-team league, there’ll be no close up viewing for local fans. No supporters are allowed in stadiums for the K-League games, at least for the first few rounds.
5:36 a.m.: Australia plans to reopen the economy in stages by July, but there are no plans to open to general international travellers in the foreseeable future.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the states will set their own pace in easing coronavirus restrictions and details of the second and third stages of the plan had yet to be finalized. Most of Australia hasn’t seen new cases for multiple days but its most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, are continuing to record new cases daily.
5:31 a.m.: The U.S. government on Friday is poised to report the worst set of jobs numbers since record-keeping began in 1948, a snapshot of the devastating damage the coronavirus outbreak has inflicted on the economy.
The unemployment rate for April could reach 16 per cent or more, according to economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet. Twenty-one million jobs may have been lost. If so, it would mean that nearly all the job growth in the 11 years since the Great Recession ended had vanished in one month.
5:22 a.m.: India recorded 3,390 new infections and 103 deaths, pushing its case total past 56,000 with 1,886 fatalities, according to health ministry data Friday.
Of those infected, 16,539 have recovered. The coastal state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, continues to remain worst affected with almost 20,000 cases and 651 deaths
5:05 a.m.: Mirvish Productions says it expects “Hamilton” will return to Toronto after the much-hyped musical’s Canadian run was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theatre company sent an email to ticket-holders who requested refunds for cancelled performances Thursday asking them to reconsider, offering priority access to seats should the production resume at a yet-to-be-determined date.
Mirvish says they’re aiming to bring “Hamilton” back to the stage within 18 months, and while the schedule is still in flux, producers intend to restart the show “at their earliest convenience.”
5 a.m.: South Korea on Friday advised nightclubs and similar entertainment venues to close for a month and may delay the reopening of schools after linking more than a dozen new coronavirus infections to clubgoers in the capital.
Schools were supposed to begin reopening next week, but the fears of a resurgence came after Friday’s disclosure of 25 new cases, South Korea’s first jump above 10 in five days.
4:15 a.m.: Canadian livestock groups say producers are suffering after COVID-19 outbreaks led to a series of closures and slowdowns at meat-processing plants across the country.
A backlog of animals waiting to be processed has cattle producers paying more to maintain their inventory.
And in one case a hog producer was forced to euthanize some his animals because they had nowhere to go.
4:11 a.m. Conservative leadership hopeful Peter MacKay is calling for use of the Magnitsky Act if specific individuals in China can be identified as having suppressed information related to COVID-19
A full inquiry, perhaps an international one, into how the novel coronavirus turned into a pandemic is required, MacKay told supporters.
“We need to invoke existing laws like the Magnitsky Act to hold individuals personally accountable for misdeeds if that evidence exists,” he said.
The act allows for sanctions against foreign nationals “responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.’’
The legislation is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who was tortured and died in a Moscow prison after uncovering fraud in Russia.
4 a.m.: The adequacy of federal emergency benefits to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis is bound to come under scrutiny today as the country gets the first real glimpse of the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.
Statistics Canada is to release the jobless numbers for April — the first full month in which the economy was virtually shut down while all but essential workers stayed home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.
Thursday 8:55 p.m.: Walt Disney World plans to reopen its restaurant and entertainment area later this month, though the theme parks and hotels will remain closed.
Disney Springs vice-president Matt Simon posted Thursday on the official Disney Parks Blog that the area will reopen May 20 with enhanced safety measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those measures include increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.
Thursday 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.
Read more of Thursday’s coverage here.