8:31 a.m. Pearson Airport in Toronto is eliminating 500 jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic
8:05 a.m. Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine
5:25 a.m.: Another spike brings India near 1 million cases
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
10:45 a.m. As the federal and provincial governments race to ramp up testing for COVID-19, a Richmond Hill company is breaking ground on a rapid, cheap and easy-to-use device to detect infection.
LooK SPOT, a portable rapid point-of-care antigen test device, is the brainchild of Laipac Technology Inc., a leading GPS electrical engineering company based in Richmond Hill.
The test, which is expected to roll out in September, will be able to detect proteins of the new coronavirus from a nasal swab sample in less than five minutes with 95 per cent accuracy, according to Laipac.
“It will be the start of something big,” Diego Lai, founder and CEO of Laipac Technology, said on July 8. “We have a lot of faith in this and hope it would become something that would help a lot of people.”
With no prior training required, the test is based on a technique called lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) —commonly used for home pregnancy tests — which only takes a few minutes to produce a result after a sample comes in contact with the LFIA strip, according to the company’s website.
10:33 a.m. A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it’s planning a series of escalating political and legal actions, including brief work interruptions, in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says it’s pushing back against the province’s emergency order because it suspends their collective bargaining agreement.
Union president Michael Hurley says his members are going to start by sending their MPPs emails this week, explaining how the order damages their workplace rights.
The union says it’s also planning legal challenges and will hold rallies outside of its workplaces on Friday.
Members of the union will vote on Monday night to see if it will be necessary to have a brief work stoppage the next day.
Hurley says that while the emergency orders were acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers and the emergency is over in most of the province.
A spokeswoman for the union confirmed on Monday that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of political action over the weekend.
10:04 a.m. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the wearing of masks will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England. The requirement is expected to take effect July 24.
The decision follows weeks of discussion by the government about their value during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not out of the woods yet, so let us all do our utmost to keep this virus cornered and enjoy summer safely,” he said. Anyone not wearing a face covering can be fined 100 pounds ($125) and shops can refuse entry to anyone failing to comply.
10:04 a.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is signalling she favours people in hard-hit counties staying in their areas after major coronavirus outbreaks.
Germany has loosened many restrictions on public life during the past 2 1/2 months, but local authorities will consider new restrictions if the number of infections in an area exceeds 50 per 100,000 residents during a one-week period.
Last month, a partial lockdown was imposed on the Guetersloh region of western Germany after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse. Many other German regions refused to allow people from the area to stay unless they could produce a recent negative test.
Merkel asks, “isn’t it better for the hot spot itself to say, you can only travel anywhere if you have a negative test … than if we check at every hotel in Germany whether someone from a particular county is there?”
She says it’s being discussed with state governments, which are responsible in Germany for lockdown measures.
10:04 a.m. Regional authorities in Andalusia, on the southern Spanish coast, approved a package of measures making face masks mandatory in all open or enclosed spaces, including beaches and swimming pools.
People can take off their mask only to swim. Fines can reach 100 euros ($114).
Other exceptions are inside family homes or when eating, and for children under 6 or people with health problems.
Andalusia, home to such historic cities as Seville, Cordoba and Granada, is also famed for its beaches. Like the rest of Spain, it is trying to control outbreaks of the coronavirus after ending a national lockdown.
10:04 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to require masks inside all indoor public spaces by Aug. 1.
In an interview with French television networks marking Bastille Day, Macron says “the best prevention” for the virus are masks, social distancing and hand washing.
Macron says France’s virus reproduction rate is inching past 1 again, meaning each infected person is infecting at least one other.
Many other European nations required masks in indoor public space when they started easing virus lockdowns. France took a more relaxed attitude, recommending but not requiring masks.
Recent rave parties in France and widespread backsliding on social distancing — even within Macron’s presidential palace and other government facilities — have raised concerns.
France has confirmed more than 30,000 virus deaths.
10:04 a.m. Israel’s Health Ministry says the country has confirmed 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a record high.
Israel was widely praised for taking swift action early in the pandemic by closing its borders and imposing other restrictions to contain the virus’s spread. But since reopening the economy and schools in May following a more than monthlong lockdown, the number of new cases has steadily increased.
Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi says the government is making every effort to try to avoid another countrywide lockdown.
“A general lockdown is without a doubt one of the tools that we try our utmost to avoid reaching for,” Hezi told Israel Radio, but says it remained an option authorities are considering.
Israel has recorded a total of 41,235 cases of the coronavirus. The country currently has over 21,000 active cases and confirmed at least 368 Israelis deaths from COVID-19, according to the Health Ministry.
10:04 a.m. A semi-official Iranian news agency says Tehran’s governor has imposed new restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, ordering mosques and several businesses closed for a week in the Iranian capital.
According to the Tasnim news agency, Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpey, the governor, said the measures would apply to mosques and women’s beauty salons, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and coffee shops.
The development comes after Iran has been seeing a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent weeks, including record numbers of deaths so far in the pandemic for the Middle Eastern country.
Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari says 179 more people died in Iran from the virus on Monday, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 13,211.
She says there were 2,521 new confirmed cases on Monday, more than half of which were hospitalized, bringing the overall number of infections to 262,173.
Iran is the regional hotspot for COVID-19, with the highest number of infections and deaths from the virus.
10:04 a.m. Austria is expanding a list of countries with banned flights to include six nations in the western Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Egypt.
Austria currently bans flights from eight countries and one region of Italy. The Austria Press Agency reported that only the latter — Lombardy, the Italian region worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic — is being removed from the list starting on Thursday.
The health ministry added 10 new countries in light of high coronavirus infection levels and kept the eight that were already on the list: Belarus, China, Britain, Iran, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. There are exceptions for flights bringing in freight, repatriated Austrians, medical caregivers or agricultural workers.
10:04 a.m. Africa’s coronavirus caseload has climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic on the 54-nation continent continues to pick up speed.
Africa surpassed the half-million case mark less than a week ago. The continent now has more than 610,000 confirmed cases. South Africa has the most cases on the continent, with more than 287,000.
South Africa’s public hospitals are already filling up, and the government on Sunday night reimposed a ban on alcohol sales to help free up hospital beds. The return of alcohol sales on June 1 was blamed for a surge in emergency admissions and an increase in the number of women and children killed.
Other countries struggling with shortages of medical equipment and personnel include Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, which has more than 33,000 cases.
10:04 a.m. The authorities in Thailand are suggesting almost 1,900 people quarantine themselves and get tested for the coronavirus after a breakdown in screening allowed two foreigners who tested positive for the disease to pose a risk to public health.
The agency co-ordinating Thailand’s coronavirus response also announced it was rolling back regulations for admitting foreign visitors to tighten up procedures.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the COVID-19 centre, said the agency was suggesting that 1,882 people whom a contact tracing app indicated may have crossed paths with an infected member of a visiting Egyptian military team self-isolate for 14 days and get themselves tested as soon as possible. Seven people already known to have had direct contact have already been quarantined.
Officials in the eastern province of Rayong closed several schools and a mall, sealed off part of the hotel where the Egyptians had stayed and gave free coronavirus tests for people who feared they may have had contact with the infected man.
The second case involved the infected 9-year-old daughter of a foreign diplomat whose family returned from Sudan and stayed in their condominium in Bangkok.
10:04 a.m. The official opening of the Dutch parliamentary year will happen without the traditional pomp and ceremony in September due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Hague municipality and the defence ministry says King Willem-Alexander’s traditional ride in an ornate horse-drawn carriage from a palace in the city to the parliament won’t happen and appealed to the public not to visit the city on Sept. 15.
Thousands of people usually flock to The Hague to line the route of the monarch’s coach ride to parliament.
The venue of the meeting of both houses of Dutch parliament has been changed from the historic Knights Hall to a church that is large enough to accommodate all 225 lawmakers with social distancing in place.
9:30 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is launching an election-style summer tour of Ontario as the province reopens after months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the next eight weeks, he will be travelling to seven regions, stopping in 38 ridings, and covering nearly 5,000 kilometres to thank Ontarians and the many businesses across this province for stepping up and doing their part during COVID-19,” Ford’s office said Tuesday.
The premier will be in Cambridge on Tuesday afternoon at Eclipse Automation, a company that retooled its machines to manufacture N95 and surgical masks and other medical supplies.
He will then tour Challenger Motor Freight to “thank workers for continuing to operate throughout the pandemic, including bringing essential products across the U.S. border.”
Read the full story by the Star’s Robert Benzie
8:31 a.m. Pearson Airport in Toronto is eliminating 500 jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority announced Tuesday. That’s a workforce reduction of 27 per cent. The changes reflect a significant decrease in global air traffic, with passenger numbers at Pearson currently at operating at 1996 levels. The job reductions will be achieved through the elimination of unfilled positions, together with voluntary departures and layoffs.
8:05 a.m. Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.
Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.
“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.
“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.
“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”
So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.
He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.
Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.
The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.
Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.
The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.
Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.
While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.
“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”
7:46 a.m. The coronavirus pandemic is weighing heavily on the financial health of JPMorgan Chase, as America’s largest financial company set aside billions in the second quarter to cover potential losses from all the businesses and consumers who are unable to pay their debts due to the slumping economy.
The results offer a glimpse into how badly the pandemic is impacting the financial health of American consumers and businesses. Last quarter, when the coronavirus pandemic had only just begun, JPMorgan set aside nearly $8.3 billion (U.S.) to cover loan losses. The bank added additional $10.5 billion (U.S.) to those reserves this quarter.
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The year-over-year decline was almost entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic. JPMorgan reported its highest quarterly revenue in its history, but those gains were overtaken by the money set aside to cover potentially bad loans.
Whether JPMorgan and the other big banks have set aside enough money to cover bad loans remains unclear, but the outlook does not look good.
The coronavirus pandemic is now in its fifth month in the U.S., with infections hitting records in several states and economies shutting down again. Enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of the month, and at this point many consumers are upward of 90 days past due on their debts.
“Despite some recent positive macroeconomic data and significant, decisive government action, we still face much uncertainty regarding the future path of the economy,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a prepared statement.
JPMorgan is the first of the big six Wall Street banks to report its results this week, with Wells Fargo and Citigroup reporting on Tuesday as well. like JPMorgan, the other banks are expected to take significant losses on their loans this quarter due to the pandemic.
7:19 a.m. China is pushing harder to make territorial claims in the regional seas and even using the coronavirus pandemic to expand its influence and take strategic superiority, posing a greater threat to Japan and the region, Japan’s government said.
The report highlighting the government’s defence priorities was adopted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday, less than a day after the Trump administration rejected outright nearly all of Beijing’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea in a statement likely to deepen the U.S.-China rift.
The Abe government’s Defence White Paper 2020 highlights what are potential Chinese and North Korean threats as Japan tries to further increase its defence capability. Under Abe, Japan has steadily increased its defence budget and capability and purchased costly American arsenals.
Defence Minister Taro Kono recently scrapped the deployment of a pair of costly U.S. land-based missile intercepting systems due to technical issues, and Abe quickly announced his intention to revise Japan’s defence guidelines, possibly allowing Japan to go beyond its conventional defence-only role under the Japan-U.S. security alliance, including discussing a possibility of acquiring a preemptive strike capability.
The White Paper accused China of using propaganda, including spreading disinformation, about the spread of the coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may expose and intensify strategic competition among countries intending to create international and regional orders more preferable to themselves and to expand their influence,” the report said. “We need to closely watch their move with serious concern affecting the national security.”
6:10 a.m. Britain’s government will demand people wear face coverings in shops as it seeks to clarify its message after weeks of prevarication amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to tell the House of Commons on Tuesday that anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine. The order comes into effect on July 24, giving shops and the police time to prepare.
Many European nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already require masks to be worn in enclosed spaces.
Britain, which has reported one of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, had taken a more relaxed attitude, recommending masks but not requiring them — at least until now.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who in the spring spent a week in the hospital being treated for COVID-19, had not been seen in public in a mask until last week. On Monday morning, he urged people to wear them. Monday evening, his government announced it would be compulsory.
5:35 a.m.: Vice-President Mike Pence travels Tuesday to Louisiana, which has re-emerged as one of the nation’s hot spots for the coronavirus only months after seeming to contain its outbreak.
The Republican vice-president was scheduled to meet with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, members of the congressional delegation and state health officials to talk about the state’s response to the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Pence’s visit comes as Louisiana’s confirmed virus cases, percentage of positive tests and COVID-19 patient hospitalization rates are surging — worrying public health experts about the level of virus spread in a state that previously appeared successful in combating its outbreak.
“Louisiana has been on the radar, literally front and centre, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since the very beginning. We’ve never come off of that radar,” Edwards said. “I think that’s a big reason why the vice-president chose to come to Baton Rouge and to Louisiana.”
5:32 a.m.: China said the number of people in treatment for COVID-19 in the country has fallen to just 297, with only three new cases of coronarvirus reported, all brought from outside the country.
No new deaths were announced, leaving the total at 4,634 out of 83,605 cases of the disease.
A pair of experts from the World Health Organization were in China on Monday to make arrangements for an investigation into how the pandemic may have spread after the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
5:28 a.m.: Australia’s Queensland state is toughening the punishment for those who break coronavirus quarantine rules. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the current fines for breaking a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for some visitors or lying about their whereabouts may not be a sufficient penalty.
The maximum penalty will now be a higher fine or up to six months’ imprisonment.
Queensland reopened its borders to all but Victoria state residents two weeks ago. Victoria is the centre of Australia’s recent outbreak, adding 270 new infections overnight to its more than 4,000 active cases.
5:25 a.m.: India’s number of coronavirus cases jumped by another 28,000 on Tuesday and are fast approaching 1 million.
The 28,498 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the national total to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.
The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.
India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, and the virus has been spreading at a significant rate, prompting several big cities to impose partial lockdowns.
India is the third worst-affected country in terms of infections, only behind the United States and Brazil.
5:22 a.m.: Pakistan announced Tuesday it would resume vaccinations against polio next week, months after the drive against this crippling children’s disease was halted because the novel coronavirus had overwhelmed the country’s health system.
The anti-polio campaign would last three days, from next Monday, with the plan to have about 800,000 children vaccinated, the officials said. Police departments have received requests to ensure the safety of the polio workers.
5:20 a.m.: The British Columbia government is expected to give a financial update today on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected its residents, businesses and the economy.
Finance Minister Carole James says the pandemic has created “profound” challenges for people in B.C. and around the globe, fundamentally changing the ways people live and work.
She says the update will provide a summary of those impacts and outline the supports government has put in place and will continue to provide.
5:15 a.m.: A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.
The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.
4 a.m.: A new poll suggests Canadians are torn on whether the federal government should turn off the spending taps to keep the resulting deficit from flooding the nation’s future.
The Leger/Association for Canadian Studies survey found 41 per cent think that COVID-19 support programs and payments must immediately be scaled back.
Forty-four per cent think the payments to Canadians and businesses ought to continue even with the $343-billion projected deficit.
The poll suggests 78 per cent are worried about that bottom-line figure, and 60 per cent think the way out of the hole is to cut government spending, while 21 per cent say raising taxes is the solution.
The poll surveyed 1,523 Canadians between July 10 and 12 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random.
Monday 9 p.m.: British Columbia’s health minister says several COVID-19 exposures in Kelowna serve as a reminder of the risks posed by private gatherings.
Adrian Dix said during a news conference Monday that warnings of possible exposures at a restaurant, spin studio, bed and breakfast and resort are believed to stem from “private parties” at the hotels.
Eight positive tests for the disease are linked to visits to downtown Kelowna and the city’s waterfront between June 25 and July 9, said an email from Interior Health, the regional health authority.
“When people come together for private parties — in this case it was primarily people in their 20s and 30s — the risks are considerably higher,” Dix said.
The exposures follow the move to a new phase of reopening in B.C. that allows for tourism within the province. Although the accommodation industry was not ordered to close during the pandemic, many operators did so voluntarily but began welcoming guests again as part of the new phase.
Infections in B.C. inched up on Monday as health officials announced 62 new cases since Friday.
Two more people also died for a total of 189 deaths in B.C.
The new figures bring the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 3,115, while 2,718 people have fully recovered from COVID-19.
Monday 11:40 a.m. A store employee at Square One Shopping Centre has tested positive for COVID-19, according to media relations spokesperson Ashley Shantz.
According to Shantz, the employee’s last day of work was July 8. Management from the store closed the location for “appropriate cleaning and sanitization.” The store is still closed, confirmed Shantz.
Staff who worked with the employee have been asked to get tested and report any negative results before reopening.
Shantz could not confirm which store or restaurant the employee worked at, when the mall was notified of the positive case, or which position the employee held.
Click here to read more of Monday’s coverage.