5:13 p.m.: Canadian troops en route to Latvia forced to turn around after COVID-19 scare.
3:12 p.m.: Two Americans have been charged for violating the Federal Quarantine Act.
1:33 p.m.: City of Torono issued 3 tickets Saturday related to parks.
12:07 p.m.: Two new cases in P.E.I. linked to local man who returned from Nova Scotia
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
5:13 p.m.: A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia was forced to turn around and return home because of concerns those on board might have been exposed to COVID-19.
The Polaris aircraft carrying about 70 military members and aircrew took off from Canadian Forces Base Trenton on July 2 after those on board had spent two weeks in quarantine at the Ontario base, Defence Department spokeswoman Jessical Lamirande said.
All military personnel deploying on overseas missions are required to undergo such quarantine measures as the Canadian Armed Forces has implemented strict measures to ensure troops do not carry COVID-19 to another country or spread the illness among their unit.
Yet despite those precautions, the plane was forced to turn around in midair after the military got word that someone at CFB Trenton who may have come in contact with the plane and passengers had tested positive for the illness.
“The health and well-being of our members and that of our allies and partners in Latvia is a priority,” Lamirande said in a statement. “As such, the decision was made to return the aircraft en route — rather than land in Latvia.”
Those on board will now have to undergo another 14 days in isolation at the base before resuming their mission, though Lamirande played down any potential impact the delay would have on Canada’s mission in Latvia.
Canada has 540 troops in Latvia, where they form the core of a 1,500-strong multinational battlegroup established by the NATO military alliance three years ago. Similar battlegroups led by Britain, Germany and the U.S. have been established in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, respectively.
4:10 p.m.: Leaders in two of Texas’ biggest cities are calling on the governor to empower local governments to order residents to stay home as the state’s continued surge in confirmed cases of the coronavirus tests hospital capacity.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he wants Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott to return control to local governments. He says hospitals are facing a crisis and that ICUs could be overrun in 10 days.
In the Houston area, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is also a Democrat, says a stay-at-home order is needed.
Texas reported its highest daily increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday with 8,258.
3:12 p.m.: Two Americans have been charged for violating the Federal Quarantine Act.
On June 24, a 66-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman from Minnesota entered Canada at the border connecting International Falls, Minn., and Fort Frances, Ont.
Canada Border Services Agency told the man and woman to drive directly to their destination and quarantine for 14 days, but Ontario Provincial Police say they were observed making stops in Fort Frances.
Police say they are charged with failure to comply with an order prohibiting the entry into Canada and face a fine of $1,000.
2:46 p.m.: For the first time ever, Lebanon on Sunday hosted its annual music festival in the ancient northeastern city of Baalbek without an audience, a move organizers dubbed “an act of cultural resilience” to the global coronavirus pandemic as well as the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.
Held amid soaring Roman columns, the Baalbek International Festival was founded in 1956. This year, it’s being broadcast on local and regional TV stations and live-streamed on social media in an effort to spread “unity and hope.”
“We could not have an audience, since it is impossible to bring 2,000-3,000 people to Baalbek amid the coronavirus precautions, so we decided to bring Baalbek into people’s homes,” Nayla de Freige, the festival’s president, told the local LBC TV station.
The festival’s website said this year’s program, entitled “Sound of Resilience,” was “one of the first big cultural events and a premiere in the Middle East after the confinement due to COVID-19.”
The dramatic setting — a massive Roman forum — was always part of the festival’s magic. Sunday’s concert was held at the Bacchus Temple, which stands in front of six columns that remain from the Temple of Jupiter. The ruins date back to the second and third centuries.
Lebanon is currently being shaken by a severe economic and financial crisis, made worse in recent months by the coronavirus and lockdown restrictions. The financial crisis is rooted in decades of systematic corruption and mismanagement by Lebanon’s ruling elite, who critics say refuse to reform despite a nationwide uprising that erupted last October and a rapidly deteriorating economy.
1:55 p.m.: Quebec is reporting eight additional deaths due to COVID-19.
The province now has reported 5,574 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, but only one of those reported today is considered a new death.
Authorities say the other seven newly reported deaths occurred before June 27.
The province also reported 79 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 55,863.
On Saturday, the province had crept up over 100 daily cases for the first time since June 20. The number of hospitalizations and intensive-care cases decreased slightly for a total of 371 and 26 patients, respectively.
1:33 p.m.: As residents gather during hot weather, the City of Toronto is reminding everyone that alcohol consumption is not permitted in parks, beaches or public spaces. Fines are $300 as part of enforcement in beaches and parks.
The city says it received 69 complaints related to parks and issued three tickets on Saturday but these weren’t related to alcohol.
Since July 1, the city has “provided education to nearly 1,900 individuals which includes education on alcohol laws and other orders.”
“While visiting a beach or park, residents must practise physical distancing and avoid crowding,” a spokesperson said. “Provincial orders restricting gatherings of more than 10 people who are not members of the same household remain in effect.”
1:05 p.m.: The numbers in Florida get bigger and bigger.
It took three months, from early March to June 22, for Florida to cross 100,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. It took less than two weeks for the state to go from 100,000 to 200,000 cases — and the positive test rate keeps rising.
The 10,059 confirmed new novel coronavirus cases from Sunday’s Florida Department of Health update, the third highest single-day total, behind Saturday and Thursday, shot the state’s pandemic case number to 200,111.
While there’s been an increase in testing over the last week, there’s also been a massive leap in the positive test rate. The average daily positive test rate from July 21 through Jun 27 was 9.94 per cent. The average for the next seven days: 14.47 per cent.
Another 29 deaths were reported around the state Sunday, bringing that total to 3,832.
1:02 p.m.: U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has been better than expected so far, and it won’t be necessary to extend an emergency unemployment program that ends this month.
“We are doing well, we do need to be careful about the virus but I am just optimistic,” Scalia said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s really important to again remember how much better than projected we’ve done so far.”
“Spending, retail spending, consumer spending generally, new home starts, all of these have been actually very encouraging economic indicators over the last about six weeks or so,” Scalia said.
As lawmakers prepare to resume talks about another round of stimulus later this month, President Donald Trump’s calls for tax relief —including a potential payroll tax cut —could be “an important part” of bringing more people back to work, said Scalia, a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
But the $600 weekly unemployment benefit established as part of the first round of stimulus shouldn’t be part of the next package, Scalia said.
“As we reopen the economy I don’t know that we need a benefit like that,” Scalia said. There will likely be a “lot of discussions toward the end of the month” between the White House and lawmakers about the next round of stimulus measures, he said.
12:07 p.m.: Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 linked to a positive case that was reported Saturday.
The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, says the two new cases had contact with a P.E.I. man in his 20s who had travelled to Nova Scotia. That man had interacted with someone who had been in the United States and was asymptomatic when he returned to the province on Monday.
Morrison says the two new cases are men in their 20s. She says the risk of community spread remains low.
P.E.I. reported three new cases of COVID-19 Saturday for the first time in more than two months.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11:01 a.m.:
There are 105,455 confirmed cases in Canada.
Quebec: 55,784 confirmed (including 5,566 deaths, 25,280 resolved)
Ontario: 35,794 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,266 resolved) (The Star does its own tally and will be updating this story later today. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, by the Star’s count, cases were up a total of 117 since Friday evening.)
Alberta: 8,259 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,532 resolved) British Columbia: 2,947 confirmed (including 177 deaths, 2,608 resolved)
Nova Scotia: 1,064 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)
Saskatchewan: 796 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 711 resolved)
Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 302 resolved), 11 presumptive
Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)
New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)
Prince Edward Island: 30 confirmed (including 27 resolved)
Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)
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Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive
Total: 105,455 (12 presumptive, 105,443 confirmed including 8,676 deaths, 69,173 resolved)
11:02 a.m.: Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing as fears mount over newly spiking reported deaths from the coronavirus, even as its public increasingly shrugs off the danger of the COVID-19 illness it causes.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicized an image of himself in a mask in recent days, urging both public officials and the Islamic Republic’s 80 million people to wear them to stop the virus’s spread.
But public opinion polling and a walk through any of the streets of Tehran show the widespread apathy felt over a pandemic that saw Iran in February among the first countries struck after China.
On June 30, Iran saw its highest single-day reported death toll of the pandemic with 162 killed.
The new rules require those in Tehran’s subway, riding buses or indoors to wear them. The government said those seeking “public services” also will be required to wear a mask.
Read the story here.
10:49 a.m.: New York City is preparing for Phase 3 of the reopening process Monday, but without indoor dining.
The city, which suffered terribly in the spring from the virus., will allow nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, ABC reports.
New York state was seeing almost 800 deaths a day at the virus’s peak but recent numbers have been in the single digits or low double digits.
9:52 a.m.: The U.K. government says selected sports stars are to be exempt from quarantine requirements when competing in England.
However, those involved will instead live and work in “bubbled” environments behind closed doors, U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Sunday.
The new measures will allow Formula One, international soccer, golf and snooker events to take place. Competitors involved in these events will be granted quarantine exemptions.
9:09 a.m.:The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria has recorded 74 new coronavirus cases after announcing a record 108 new infections on Saturday.
The Saturday increase resulted in state Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a lockdown of nine Melbourne inner-city public housing blocks containing 3,000 people, where 27 cases have been detected.
Police are guarding every entrance of the housing estates and residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason.
Andrews said the residents will have their rent waived for the next two weeks and will receive one-off hardship payments of between about $750 and $1,500 (Canadian). The government said it would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.
Australia had for months been largely successful in keeping the virus at bay.
7:45 a.m.: Israel ordered thousands of people into quarantine after a contentious phone surveillance program resumed while Palestinians in the West Bank returned to life under lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases in both areas.
A statement Sunday from Israel’s Health Ministry said “many” messages had been sent to Israelis following the renewed involvement of the Shin Bet domestic security agency. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 30,000 people were notified they must enter quarantine since Thursday.
After imposing strict measures early on during a first wave of infections, Israel and the Palestinian territories appeared to have contained their outbreaks, with each reporting only a few dozen new cases a day in May. But an easing of restrictions led to a steady uptick in cases over the past month.
“We are in a state of emergency,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would need to further clamp down to rein in the virus.
Israel is now reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave and it is set to reimpose restrictions in response, limiting occupancy in bars, places of worship and event spaces to 50 people. It is requiring citizens wear masks and has urged more stringent social distancing.
6:11 a.m.: The national immunity task force has started testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies and should be able to produce a more detailed picture of how many Canadians have been infected with the novel coronavirus within a couple of weeks.
It will be much longer, however, before we know more about what kind of protection against future infection having the antibodies provides, said Dr. Timothy Evans, executive director of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.
Plus, said Evans, most of the people whose blood is being tested will not be informed of the results because of how the blood is being collected for testing.
“There won’t be an opportunity for individuals to find out their status,” said Evans, who is also director of the McGill School of Population and Global Health.
At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified in January, while many others were sick but couldn’t get tested because provinces were limiting who could access the procedure until just a few weeks ago.
Evans also said a significant number of people get the infection and show no symptoms and will have no clue they were ever sick. Evans said immunity testing in other countries has suggested the actual infection rate is 10 to 20 times more than the number of confirmed cases.
Read the story here.
Saturday 8:32 p.m.: Mexico topped 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nation’s total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexico’s total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.
Also Saturday, about 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City on Saturday to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday 6:47 p.m.: Officials across the U.S. pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds Saturday even as President Donald Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.
People wandered the National Mall in baking heat and took shade under the scattered trees while, not far away, music wafted from a party on the White House South Lawn. To come: the “Salute for America” celebration with Trump’s speech from the White House grounds, a military air show and a more ambitious fireworks display than has been seen in years.
The crowds on the Mall were strikingly thinner than the one gathered for last year’s jammed celebration on the National Mall. Many who showed up wore masks.
At the White House, several hundred invited guests assembled on the sweeping South Lawn, gathering around tables decorated with flowers and small U.S. flags as a military rock band played. Most guests were unmasked.
Trump’s guests were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.
Saturday 5:30 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 37,675 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,733 deaths, up a total of 117 new cases since Friday evening, according to the Star’s latest count.
As has been the case in recent weeks, the vast majority of new cases were reported in a handful of health units. Only Windsor-Essex (35 new cases), Peel Region (25 cases), York Region (21 cases) and Toronto (20 cases) reported increases in the double digits. The 20 cases in Toronto were the fewest in any day since March 26.
Meanwhile, just two more fatal cases were reported — both in Toronto. The daily rate of deaths has also fallen sharply since peaking in early May when the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.
Earlier Saturday, the province reported 150 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 39 in an intensive care unit, of whom 26 are on a ventilator — numbers that are all near the lowest levels in data that goes back to early April.
The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,687 — 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.