5:52 a.m. Germany will require people arriving from countries considered high-risk to take coronavirus tests
2:11 a.m. A Canadian pastor has been found guilty of defying Myanmar’s coronavirus law
Wednesday 6:05 p.m. Ontario continues to be at its lowest rate of new infections since well before the pandemic first peaked in the province in the spring
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
9:25 a.m. The House of Commons’ committee probing the government’s ill-fated deal with WE Charity will hear this morning from a charity watchdog organization.
Charity Intelligence Canada has been referenced multiple times during finance committee hearings about the WE affair, but has yet to testify in the committee’s probe of the Canada Student Service Grant program.
Charity Intelligence has previously raised red flags about WE’s practices, which has garnered rebukes from WE and its co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, who testified before the committee last week.
The controversy around the grant program has raised questions about WE’s complex structure and accounting mechanisms, its use of high-profile corporate sponsors and celebrity endorsements and its work culture.
Meanwhile, opposition parties are hoping the imminent release of government documents will shed some light on how an organization with close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was awarded a deal to administer the $912-million student program.
The government has until Saturday to table with the finance committee all memos, briefing notes, correspondence and other documents related to the now-cancelled agreement.
8:46 a.m. A northern Norway university hospital says two more crewmembers who worked on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, bring the total to 55.
Following the outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, the ship’s owner halted all cruises on Monday and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.
The University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked, said the two were admitted Thursday. They were described as foreign nationals working on the MS Roald Amundsen.
Earlier, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said during the ship’s two journeys last month, a total of 37 crew members and 16 passengers tested positive. The passengers all registered as living in Norway.
The cruise liner often acts like a local ferry, travelling from port to port along Norway’s west coast. Some passengers disembarked along the route and authorities fear they may have spread the virus to local communities.
8 a.m. The British government says it won’t be using 50 million face masks it bought during a scramble to secure protective equipment for medics at the height of the coronavirus outbreak because of safety concerns.
The masks were part of a 252 million pound ($332 million) contract the government signed with investment firm Ayanda Capital in April. Papers filed in a court case reveal that the masks will not be distributed because they have ear loops rather than head loops and may not fit tightly enough.
The government says another 150 million masks supplied by Ayanda are unaffected but are still being tested.
The papers are part of a lawsuit against the Conservative government by campaigning groups the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor.
As the coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the U.K. in March, it became clear that the country lacked sufficient stockpiles of masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear for health care workers and nursing home staff. That sparked a race to buy billions of pieces of equipment from suppliers in the U.K. and abroad.
Opposition parties are calling for an urgent investigation into the way personal protective equipment was acquired.
8 a.m. As Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases near 1 million, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “we cannot at all exercise fatigue” in the pandemic response.
John Nkengasong spoke to reporters as the continent’s cases are now at more than 992,000. More than half are in South Africa.
Africa has seen an 11 per cent increase in cases in the past week, lower than in recent weeks, but Nkengasong says that while it’s tempting to see a decrease, the numbers must be observed over several weeks to determine the real trend of infections on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
Five countries account for 75 per cent of cases: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria.
The low rate of testing remains a concern, but Nkengasong says that if countries do the right things “we have a good chance of beating back this pandemic.” He says the CDC is closely watching countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan as cases climb.
8 a.m. The Philippines reported 3,561 new coronavirus cases Thursday, overtaking Indonesia with the most infections in Southeast Asia, as Manila plunged into a recession.
The latest jump brings confirmed cases to 119,460, including 2,150 deaths. Indonesia reported a total of 118,753 confirmed infections as of Thursday, with 5,521 deaths.
The economy slumped by 16.5% in the second quarter in the worst contraction on record in decades that caused the Philippines to slip into a recession.
The stagnant economy has begun to rebound slightly after President Rodrigo Duterte eased a three-month lockdown in June. But he put the capital and outlying provinces of more than 25 million people back under a two-week moderate lockdown Tuesday, after medical groups warned the health care system was being overwhelmed and could collapse.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says, “I’ll be honest with you, the economy can no longer withstand a much longer lockdown.”
8 a.m. Nepal has reimposed some restrictions, shutting down hotels and restaurants and restricting travel because of the increasing number of coronavirus cases.
The Home Ministry statement says all gatherings are prohibited and movement of people and vehicles only allowed during the night.
In the districts with high numbers of cases, vehicles will be allowed on the streets on alternating days by even-odd license plates.
Nepal’s lockdown imposed in March lasted for 120 days. The country has had 21,390 cases and 60 deaths, including 81 infections and two fatalities on Wednesday.
8 a.m. A health official says Vietnam’s COVID-19 outbreak could peak in the coming 10 days as the country reported another death and scores of new infections.
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son, who is in hot spot Da Nang to oversee the fight against the virus, says new infections have been found every day and “therefore, we have to continue keeping guard up.”
To cope with an increase in virus patients, Da Nang completed a 700-bed makeshift hospital on Wednesday. The hospital, converted from a sports auditorium, has a maximum capacity of 3,000 beds.
A 67-year-old woman became Vietnam’s ninth fatality. She had suffered from other health complications.
Since the outbreak returned to Vietnam two weeks ago after more than three months, 270 local infections have been confirmed, most of them traced to a cluster of hospitals in Da Nang. Among the new cases are six in a high-tech industrial park in the city.
The virus has since spread to 11 provinces and municipalities, including the largest cities of Ho Chi Minh with eight cases and Hanoi with three.
Among measures to curb the outbreak, the government is encouraging the use of a smart phone app that alerts clients if they had come into contact with a person who tested positive.
8 a.m. Germany’s national disease control centre has registered the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a day for three months.
The Robert Koch Institute says 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday. It was the first time since May 7 that it has counted more than 1,000 cases in a day. It’s still far short of early April’s peak of more than 6,000.
While daily numbers are volatile, the figure fits into a pattern of new cases edging higher over recent weeks as authorities deal with a number of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.
The disease control centre’s daily report repeated its assessment that “this development is very disturbing.” Officials last week pleaded with Germans to respect mask-wearing and social distancing rules.
Germany’s COVID-19 response so far is widely regarded as relatively successful. The Robert Koch Institute has recorded 9,175 deaths from over 213,000 confirmed cases — a lower death rate than in many comparable countries.
8 a.m. India has recorded the biggest single-day fatalities of 904 in the past 24 hours as fresh coronavirus infections surged by another 56,282 cases to reach nearly 2 million.
The Health Ministry says the total fatalities touched 40,699. India has recorded 20,000 deaths in the past 30 days.
The ministry also said the recovery rate has improved to 67% from 63% over the last 14 days. Nearly 600,000 patients are still undergoing treatment.
The case fatality rate stands at 2.09%.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the worst-hit Indian states.
8 a.m.The premier of Australia’s hot spot Victoria state has urged residents not to panic-buy as he announced reductions in meat productions.
The state capital Melbourne began its first full day of tough lockdown restrictions on Thursday as Victoria posted 471 new COVID-19 infections and eight deaths.
Premier Daniel Andrews says beef, lamb and pork production will be reduced by one third from late Friday because of the virus transmission risks in abattoirs and meat processing plants.
Poultry production will be reduced by 20%.
He says the measures are designed to drive down to the lowest possible numbers of workers to without at the same time delivering a shortage of products.
Andrews says there was no need for shoppers to stockpile, as has occurred spasmodically and to various extents during Melbourne’s first and second lockdowns.
He says, “You may not necessarily be able to get exactly the cut of meat that you want, but you will get what you need and you will get all the products that are, basically, fundamentally important to you.”
8 a.m. The governor of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture has announced a regional “state of emergency” seeking to curb the coronavirus.
Gov. Hideaki Ohmura on Thursday asked businesses to close altogether or close early and urged people to stay home at night.
The measures continue through Aug. 24, a period that coincides with the Obon holidays, when schools and many companies close. Aichi includes Nagoya, which is home to Toyota Motor Corp.’s headquarters.
The governor says confirmed coronavirus cases have been rising in Aichi since mid-July at 100 or more a day. Before that, daily cases had been zero for extended periods.
Japan’s national government in April called for social distancing and business closings, though those measures were gradually lifted. Japan has had nearly 42,700 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 1,000 deaths.
8 a.m. New COVID-19 cases in China’s northwestern city of Urumqi have shown a slight rise, with 27 reported Thursday, five more than the day before.
The uptick in the Xinjiang region shows authorities are still battling to end country’s latest major outbreak that appeared around three weeks ago. Officials have responded with stiff control measures, including locking down some residential neighbourhoods, limiting public transport and restricting travel outside the city.
Urumqi is the capital and biggest city in Xinjiang, which has reported more than 600 coronavirus cases but no deaths.
With no new deaths, China’s total remains at 4,634, among 84,528 confirmed cases recorded since the coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
8 a.m. Mexico is nearing 50,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
The federal Health Department reported 829 newly confirmed deaths Wednesday, giving the country a total of 49,698 such deaths. That is the third highest number of pandemic deaths in the world.
Officials said Mexico’s number of confirmed infections rose by 6,139 to 449,961.
Authorities acknowledge Mexico’s real number of deaths could be much higher, in part because it has done so little testing. Only about 1 million tests have been performed in the country of almost 130 million people since the pandemic began.
8 a.m. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is defending school reopenings in the face of mounting reports of students and education staff testing positive for the coronavirus since returning to classes.
Box said Wednesday that she “continue(s) to believe that our schools can safely reopen.” She says improved testing and hospital capacity are added safeguards for returning students for in-person learning.
The governor adds that her biggest recommendation to students and families is to know when to stay at home.
8 a.m. The Arkansas state government is requiring public schools to stay open five days a week when classes resume this month, complicating efforts by some districts to limit on-site instruction because of the coronavirus.
Education Secretary Johnny Key issued the guidance to schools Wednesday as the state reported 912 new confirmed virus cases and 18 more deaths.
The state’s guidance says schools must be open all five weekdays to comply with the state constitution. Some districts had planned to limit on-site instruction and use remote learning on the days that schools weren’t open.
Arkansas’ public schools are set to reopen the week of Aug. 24.
8 a.m. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says schools in the much of the state should strongly consider online-only learning for students this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Inslee also urged Wednesday that they cancel or postpone sports and all other in-person extracurricular activities.
Health experts say the virus is still spreading too extensively in the state, which saw the nation’s first confirmed virus case in late January. Since then, Washington has recorded more than 59,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,600 deaths.
8 a.m. Vermont officials say nearly 150 Vermont inmates housed in a Mississippi prison have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Vermont houses 219 inmates at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Mississippi, because of a lack of capacity in its own prisons.
Late in July, six inmates who were returned to Vermont from the private Mississippi prison tested positive when they arrived at the Rutland correctional facility. That prompted Vermont’s Corrections Department to order that the remaining Vermont inmates in Mississippi be tested.
Interim Vermont Corrections Commissioner James Baker says there were 147 positive tests, 62 negative ones, two tests that are pending and eight inmates refused to be tested.
8 a.m. The United States and seven European countries are calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in Georgia and allow medical evacuations and aid deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Get the latest in your inbox
Never miss the latest news from the Star, including up-to-date coronavirus coverage, with our email newsletters
Sign Up Now
The eight countries said after a closed U.N. Security Council session Wednesday that Russia’s presence further divides communities and puts at risk “the health and lives of the conflict-affected population” during the pandemic.
Deputy Russian Ambassador U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky tweeted that the statement is “only a fiction.”
Georgia made a botched attempt to regain control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia in 2008, setting off a short war with Russia. Moscow then recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and set up military bases there.
7:45 a.m. Bombardier Inc. says its net loss surged to $223 million (U.S.) in the second quarter on a big drop in revenues due to pandemic related disruptions.
The Montreal-based transportation company, which reports in U.S. dollars, says it lost 13 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of four cents per share or $36 million a year earlier.
The company, which will focus on business aircraft after the sale of its railway operations to Alstom are completed, says early trends are encouraging from new interest in private air travel.
“Bombardier continues to take the right actions to manage the impact of the ongoing public health crisis while protecting the business for the long-term,” stated CEO Eric Martel.
6:44 a.m. The Bank of England predicted Thursday that the economic downturn in the U.K. economy might be less severe than it thought at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — even as it warned it would take a longer time to heal the scars.
The central bank opened the door to providing more monetary stimulus as Britain reopens after the pandemic lockdowns and said the economy probably won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2021 as spending by consumers and businesses remains weak.
It also expressed concern about rising rates of unemployment — particularly at a time in which no one knows what will happen next.
“The outlook for the U.K. and global economies remains unusually uncertain, the bank said in a statement. “It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how governments, households and businesses respond to these.’
6 a.m. The NHL says the laboratories hired to conduct daily COVID-19 tests on players in Edmonton and Toronto keep their supply chains separate from the public’s to ensure never the twain shall meet.
Roughly 1,500 samples are collected and analysed daily in each city not only from players, team and NHL personnel, but from restaurant and hotel workers supporting the post-season tournament in each hub.
Prior to the NHL’s restart this summer, deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 tests will be administered through the end of the Stanley Cup final.
Aware that even a perceived conflict with public testing could sour each city’s population on hosting a dozen NHL teams, the league and labs insist there isn’t one.
The chief executive officer of DynaLife in Edmonton says the lab sources chemicals and machinery from manufacturers that don’t supply Alberta Health Services.
“A very simple analogy would be public health has chosen to run a fleet of Chevrolets and Fords as their vehicles,” Jason Pincock told The Canadian Press.
5:52 a.m. Germany will require people arriving from countries considered high-risk to take coronavirus tests starting this weekend, the health minister said Thursday, as the country recorded its highest daily tally of new infections in three months.
German officials have voiced alarm over a steady upward creep in the number of new infections over recent weeks. The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday — the first time since May 7 that it has counted more than 1,000 cases in a day.
Daily figures can be volatile or distorted by delays in reporting, and the number is still far short of the peak of more than 6,000 reached in early April.
“What we are seeing is a lot of small outbreaks,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters. “People are getting infected at family parties, at their place of work or at community facilities.”
On top of that, school holidays — the dates of which are staggered across Germany’s 16 states — are ending in some regions, increasing concerns that vacationers could bring home the virus.
4 a.m. Opposition parties are hoping the imminent release of government documents related to the WE Charity affair will shed some light on how an organization with close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was awarded a deal to administer a federal student grant program.
The government has until Saturday to table with the House of Commons finance committee all memos, briefing notes, correspondence and other documents related to the now-cancelled agreement.
In the meantime, however, the committee’s efforts to delve deeper into the controversy could be stymied due to the unavailability of key witnesses.
The committee, which heard last week from Trudeau and WE Charity founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, is scheduled to hold another video conference meeting Thursday.
But committee chair Wayne Easter says it could be cancelled because, as of late Wednesday, none of the invited witnesses had yet confirmed their appearance.
Thursday 5 a.m. Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health is set to take the stand Thursday in a legal challenge of a travel ban limiting entry to the province she ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald will appear as a witness at the case being heard in provincial supreme court in St. John’s this week.
The special measures order from Fitzgerald came into effect in May, banning anyone but permanent residents and workers deemed essential from entering the province.
Halifax resident Kim Taylor and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a claim in May alleging the restrictions violate the charter and fall outside the province’s jurisdiction.
Taylor’s request to travel to Newfoundland after her mother died was initially denied and though the decision was later reversed and she was granted an exemption, she said it came too late.
Dr. Proton Rahman, who is leading the team preparing models on COVID-19 in the province, will also appear as a witness Thursday.
Thursday 2:11 a.m. A court in Myanmar on Thursday sentenced the Canadian pastor of an evangelical church to three months imprisonment after finding him guilty of violating a law intended to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Myanmar-born David Lah was charged with flouting a ban on large gatherings by holding a religious meeting in Yangon on April 7.
Lah’s lawyer, Aung Kyi Win, said the court had found his client guilty of violating an article in the Natural Disaster Management Law because he failed to comply with a directive against gatherings.
The judge credited Lah with time served since he was jailed in May, so it appears he may be released within a couple of weeks.
A Myanmar colleague of Lah, Wai Tun, received the same sentence.
Thursday 12:06 a.m. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’d support an extension of payroll support for airlines as the coronavirus pandemic continues to eat away at their business.
Trump’s support comes after 16 senators signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asking for the extension to spare potentially tens of thousands of airline jobs that are at risk after current funding is exhausted at the end of September.
“We don’t want to lose our airlines,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Wednesday. “If they’re looking at that, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, I’d certainly be in favor.”
Unions representing airline employees and more than 200 members of the House of Representatives have supported an extension of CARES Act funding for airlines, which received $25 billion from Congress when it passed the law in March.
10:30 p.m. Wednesday At least four people have died after swallowing hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
In a report, the CDC said more than a dozen adults have landed in hospitals in Arizona and New Mexico since May 1 after drinking disinfectants.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested,” the CDC said in the report.
In addition to the four fatalities, which included a trio of people in their 30s, another three patients suffered visual impairment after swallowing sanitizer, according to health authorities.
The cases involved methanol, a toxic substance, the CDC said. The Federal Drug Administration has issued warnings about sanitizers containing methanol and has piled up a list of more than 100 types of cleaners that it advises Americans to avoid.
Wednesday 8:15 p.m.: As COVID-19 remains in the community, B.C. health officials say so does the anxiety and stress that comes with the uncertainly and increased isolation.
A joint statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says younger people may not understand why activities they enjoyed have been restricted, and they urged family members and friends to offer mental health support.
The government announced 47 new positive tests of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 3,834.
There are 351 active cases of COVID-19, with nine people hospitalized and six of those are in intensive care.
There have been no new deaths since the province’s last update and the toll stands at 195.
Dix and Henry asked B.C. residents to treat the summer of 2020 as a time of consideration and care for others.
Wednesday 6:05 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 41,760 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,821 deaths, up 78 new infections in 24 hours.
The province continues to be at its lowest rate of new infections since well before the pandemic first peaked in Ontario in the spring. Ontario has averaged 96 cases per day over the last seven days, down from a peak of nearly 600 daily, seen in mid-April.
On Wednesday, 20 of Ontario 34 health units reported no new cases; none reported more than 20 cases.
Meanwhile, one fatal case was reported Wednesday in the province, in Chatham-Kent. The southwestern Ontario health unit is the only area of the province that’s currently experiencing its worst rate of infection since the beginning of the pandemic — a still-relatively low 8.3 cases per day over the last week.
Earlier Wednesday, the province reported that 66 Ontarians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 30 in intensive care, of whom 15 are on a ventilator.
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.
The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., 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.”
Read Wednesday rolling file