The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:17 a.m. Asylum seekers working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 crisis are getting an early chance at permanent residency in Canada.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the program today in response to public demand that the so-called “Guardian Angels” — many in Quebec — be recognized for their work in the health-care sector during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, asylum seekers must wait for their claims to be accepted before they can become permanent residents, but the new program waives that requirement.

To apply for residency now, they must have claimed asylum in Canada prior to March 13 and have spent no less than 120 hours working as a orderly, nurse or other designated occupation since then.

They must also demonstrate they have six months of experience in the profession before they can receive permanent residency and have until the end of this month to meet that requirement.

In a statement, Mendicino says the approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada.

9:56 a.m. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has announced a range of new nationwide restrictions to help fight a surge in coronavirus cases.

Illa said after an emergency meeting Friday with leaders of Spain’s autonomous regions that authorities are shutting all discos and night clubs across Spain.

Visits to nursing homes are limited to one person a day for each resident for only one hour. People are prohibited from smoking in public areas if they are unable to keep at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) away from others.

Police will begin cracking down harder on banned night-time street gatherings by young people to drink alcohol. New daily cases in Spain have been steadily climbing since the country on June 21 ended a more than three-month lockdown.

Authorities have officially recorded almost 50,000 cases in the past 14 days, an average of about 3,500 new cases a day.

9:56 a.m. New Jersey’s governor says the state will move to a nearly all-mail election this November, following the model it used for the July primary because of the coronavirus.

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy said during an interview with CNN on Friday that all voters would get a ballot. It’s not clear if people who aren’t registered will get an application to register.

Murphy indicated the only in-person voting will be with provisional ballots. That means if voters want to cast their ballot in person, they’ll have to go to one of a reduced number of polling places and cast a ballot that will be counted only after officials determine the voter didn’t mail in a ballot.

The development comes a day after President Donald Trump acknowledged he’s starving the United States Postal Service of cash to make it harder to process millions of mailed-in ballots.

9:56 a.m. Norway officials are recommending masks on public transportation in Oslo and banning private gatherings of more than 20 people after a local spike in coronavirus cases.

Health Minister Bent Hoeie says masks must be used in Oslo and in a municipality southwest of the capital starting Monday.

Oslo has had 19 news coronavirus cases in the past two weeks. Nationally, Norway has 261 confirmed deaths related to the virus.

9:56 a.m. Britain has secured 90 million doses of two vaccines being developed to fight COVID-19.

The deals with Novavax, an American biotech company, and Janssen, a Belgian company owned by Johnson & Johnson, mean the U.K. has now acquired the rights to 340 million doses of six different experimental vaccines as the government seeks to hedge its bets on products that are still being tested to see if they are safe and effective.

Kate Bingham, chair of the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, told ITV there was no guarantee any of the vaccines would work “because there have been no vaccines against any human coronavirus.

“So what we’re doing is we’ve chosen six of the most promising vaccines across four different vaccine types and we’re hoping that one of those will work.’’

9:56 a.m. Denmark has added Belgium and Malta to its list of European nations where non-essential travels are not recommended as the Scandinavian country has seen a flare-up of coronavirus cases.

The Scandinavian country’s reason for doing so is that both nations have seen more than 30 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants. Danish health officials say the number is 32.5 for Belgium and 31.5 for Malta.

As of Friday midnight, people who travel from Belgium or Malta must self-quarantine upon return.

Denmark earlier has listed Spain, Andorra, Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Romania as countries where non-essential travels are not recommended.

Danes also don’t recommend trips to countries outside Europe with the exception of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Georgia, Japan, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

9:56 a.m. German authorities in the western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg have established a new coronavirus testing station at a highway rest stop by the French border after noting a strong increase in cases in the neighbouring country.

The dpa news agency reported Friday that the centre has started testing travellers at the Neuenburg-Ost rest stop, across the border from the French town of Chalampe. Travellers from designated risk areas are required to be tested upon return to Germany, and the centre will also test any others who want to be checked.

France reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases over the past week.

Baden-Wuerttemberg already has test centres at airports in Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen and Baden-Baden, as well as the Stuttgart main train station.

The Neuenburg rest stop centre is the first such station outside Bavaria, which has had roadside testing since the end of July. They have generated so much interest that Bavarian officials have reported a backlog of cases, with about 44,000 people not yet informed of their results, including more than 900 who tested positive for COVID-19.

Baden-Wuerttemberg says it expects to be able to inform people within four days of their tests.

9:56 a.m. A man in his 20s has become the youngest person to die of the coronavirus in Australia.

He was among 14 new deaths and 372 new infections reported by Victoria state health officials Friday in an outbreak centred in Melbourne, the second-largest city.

And Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 188 elderly people had died over the past week as the virus ripped through aged-care homes in Melbourne. Officials say about 70% of Australia’s 375 virus deaths have been at aged-care facilities.

Morrison said that Australians had high expectations of the services and standards at nursing homes and other facilities like hospitals and schools.

He says, “On the days that the system falls short, on the days that expectations are not met, I’m deeply sorry about that, of course I am.”

He said the country was moving heaven and earth to defeat the virus and it would eventually win.

9:56 a.m. South Korea is reporting 103 new coronavirus cases. It is one of the country’s biggest daily jumps in months, and officials are expressing concern that infections are getting out of control in the capital of Seoul and other major cities as Koreans increasingly venture out in public.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought the national caseload to 14,873 cases, including 305 deaths.

Eighty-three of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where authorities have struggled to stem transmissions. Infections were also reported in other major cities such as Busan, Gwangju and Ulsan.

Friday’s jump was driven by local transmissions, which health authorities said could worsen because of the increase in travellers during the summer vacation season.

9:56 a.m. A private school in California has been ordered to close after it reopened classrooms in violation of a state health order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Fresno County issued a health order Thursday against Immanuel Schools in Reedley. The K-12 school was told to close its classrooms until the county is removed from a state monitoring list for two weeks.

The school has about 600 students and it allowed students into classes Thursday without masks or social distancing. The school’s trustees and superintendent say they believe students’ development will suffer if they can’t be taught on campus.

9:56 a.m. China has reported another eight cases of locally transmitted coronavirus infections, all in the northwestern region of Xinjiang where the country’s last major outbreak has been largely contained.

Officials said Friday that 22 other new cases were brought from outside the country by Chinese travellers returning home. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 84,786 cases.

Hong Kong reported 69 new confirmed cases and three deaths over the past 24 hours. The semi-autonomous Chinese city has required masks be worn in all public settings, restricted indoor dining and enacted other social distancing measures to bring down transmissions that now total 4,312 with 66 deaths.

9:56 a.m. Mexico has passed the half-million mark in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Health Department reported 7,371 newly confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the country’s total for the pandemic to 505,751. The department reported 627 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, giving Mexico a total of 55,293.

Experts agree that due to Mexico’s extremely low testing rates, those numbers are undercounts and that the real figures may be two to three times higher. With only about 1.15 million tests conducted to date in a country of almost 130 million people, less than 1% of Mexicans have been tested.

9:56 a.m. Texas is reporting fewer than 7,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients for the first time in six weeks.

That encouraging sign Thursday was clouded by questions over testing as students return to school and college football teams push ahead with playing this fall. Testing has dropped off in Texas, a trend seen across the U.S as health experts worry that patients without symptoms aren’t bothering because of long lines and waiting days to get results.

Numbers from Texas health officials this week offer a hazy picture of how much testing has fallen. At one point this week, the infection rate in Texas was as high as 24%, only to suddenly drop Thursday to 16%.

Officials have not offered explanations about the wild swing in infection rates.

9:56 a.m. California will resume eviction and foreclosure proceedings Sept. 2, stoking fears of a wave of evictions during the coronavirus pandemic unless the governor and state Legislature can agree on a proposal to extend protections.

The Judicial Council of California voted 19-1 Thursday to end the temporary rules blocking such proceedings that had been in place since April 6.

Since the pandemic began in March, more than 9.7 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in California. A survey from the U.S. Census shows more than 1.7 million renters in the state could not pay their rent on time last month.

California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has been reluctant to let the rules stay in place much longer, saying it is the job of the judicial branch to interpret the laws, not make them.

9:56 a.m. Britain will require all people arriving from France to isolate for 14 days — an announcement that throws the plans of tens of thousands of holidaymakers into chaos.

The government said late Thursday that France is being removed from the list of nations exempted from quarantine requirements because of a rising number of coronavirus infections, which have surged by 66% in the past week. The Netherlands, Malta, Monaco and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Turks & Caicos also were added to the quarantine list.

France is one of the top holiday destinations for British travellers, who now have until 4 a.m. Saturday to get home if they want to avoid two weeks in isolation.

The number of new infections in Britain is also rising.

9:40 a.m. British Columbia’s Health Minister urged those thinking of attending large events where social distancing isn’t possible to re-think their plans, and warned bylaw officers would be out as enforcement.

Adrian Dix says parties may not be immediately shut down but there would be consequences for those found flouting the rules.

“(Private parties) have been a significant source of problems,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

“I have to say this, if you’re thinking of organizing a party — especially one involving alcohol, where there’s so specific limits on distancing that you’re putting in place — you should not do so.”

He warned that environmental health and bylaw officers would be out checking banquet halls and other places that hold events to ensure the 50-person capacity limit is being respected.

“They can expect to be visited,” he said of those hosting private events. “The rules will be enforced and that will have consequences.”

Dix’s comments come as B.C. reported 78 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 4,274.

No new deaths were reported Thursday, leaving the province’s total at 196.

People between the ages of 20 to 29 now make up the group seeing the largest increase of infections, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Those infections have been seen after exposure events, such as parties where young adults have been gathering, she added.

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9:31 a.m. (updated) Around 550 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Brass Rail Tavern over the course of four days, Toronto Public Health announced in a news release Friday morning.

An employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was at the strip club, located at 701 Yonge St., during these times:

Aug. 4 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Aug. 5)Aug. 5 from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Aug. 6)Aug. 7 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Aug. 8)Aug. 8 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (Aug. 9)

Toronto Public Health said in the release that “there was no risk to anyone attending the Brass Rail Tavern outside of these dates and times.”

As a precaution, TPH is advising anyone who attended the Brass Rail Tavern during these dates and times to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the 14 days since their last visit during this period.

Read the full story from the Star’s Ted Fraser

7:37 a.m. Cineplex Inc. reported a loss of $98.9 million in its latest quarter as its movie theatres were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company says the loss amounted to $1.56 per share for the quarter ended June 30 compared with a profit of $19.4 million or 31 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Revenue totalled $22.0 million, down from $438.9 million.

Cineplex temporarily closed all of its theatres and other entertainment venues March 16 as public health authorities started to put restrictions in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The company started to reopen its theatres just before the end of the quarter.

Cineplex has also had to deal with the fallout from Cineworld Group PLC’s decision to walk away from a deal to buy the company on June 12. It has filed a lawsuit against its former suitor over the failed deal.

7:35 p.m. New coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 50,000 for the second day in a row, as countries around the world struggled to curb the virus’s spread.

Total cases in the U.S. exceeded 5.2 million, about a quarter of the world-wide total, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll rose by about 1,000 to more than 167,000. That was down from the previous day’s tally, which was the highest daily total since May 27.

6 a.m. More people in Indonesia rolled up their sleeves Friday to test a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by a Chinese company.

The Indonesian government announced the partnership between state-owned enterprise Bio Farma and the Chinese company Sinovac BioTech in early July. As part of the deal, Indonesia recruited 1,620 volunteers for the trial. The first 20 were injected with the candidate vaccine in Bandung, West Java province, on Tuesday, and more followed suit.

“We hope that this third clinical trial will be completed in six months. We hope that in January we can produce it and at the same time, if the production is ready, vaccinate all people in the country,” President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.

After passing a medical and PCR test to confirm their health, volunteers were given a first dose of the experimental vaccine or a placebo, then a second dose 14 days later.

“I am not worried about the vaccine trial as I have searched the information related to a Sinovac vaccine before,” said Rina Mardiana, 44. “I want to join the trial for humanitarian reasons. I hope the pandemic will end soon.”

Clinical trial research leader Kusnandi Rusmil told The Associated Press that half the volunteers will be injected by the vaccine and the other half with the placebo. “We will see the comparison … in seven months,” Rusmil said.

5:55 a.m. Germany added the most new cases since May, while the head of the French Health Agency Jerome Salomon said the situation in his country is worsening. Travel stocks slumped after the U.K. government said it will require travelers from France, the Netherlands and four other countries to quarantine.

Infections continued to rise in Spain, prompting warnings from business leaders about the cost to the economy if new lockdown measures have to be imposed. New Zealand recorded 12 new local cases on Friday, including some outside the largest city Auckland, where the lockdown was extended.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden said U.S. governors should require masks for the next three months, an approach he said would save more than 40,000 lives, though President Donald Trump said this would be unenforceable.

5:51 a.m. The head of France’s national health service says Paris and Marseille have been declared at-risk zones for the coronavirus as authorities observe a sharp increase in infections.

Jerome Salomon, speaking on France Inter radio, warned “the situation is deteriorating from week to week” in the country. He says virus clusters emerge every day following family reunions, big parties and other gatherings amid summer holidays.

A government decree issued Friday allows authorities to impose stricter measures in the Paris and Marseille areas.

Salomon says there are “more and more people who tested positive, more and more people arriving in hospitals…we need to react before counting new deaths.”

The national health agency reported 2,669 new infections across on Thursday, putting France’s infection rate per 100,000 people to above 30.

4:21 a.m. India’s coronavirus death toll overtook Britain to become the fourth-highest in the world with another single-day record increase in cases Friday.

According to the Health Ministry, India reported 1,007 deaths in the past 24 hours. Its total rose to 48,040 deaths, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

India’s confirmed cases reached 2,461,190 with a single-day spike of 64,553 in the past 24 hours. More than 70 per cent of people infected in India have recovered.

The daily increase in newly reported infections was around 15,000 in the first week of July but jumped to more than 50,000 in the first week of August. The ministry cited its testing efforts, with more than 800,000 tests in a single day, taking cumulative tests to more than 26 million.

Health experts say it needs to be higher, given India’s population of 1.4 billion.

India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases spiked after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions.

Subways, schools and movie theatres remain closed.

Thursday 10:15 p.m. Despite initial findings and statements to the contrary, it seems children do transmit the coronavirus and play a substantial role in its spread, according to emerging research and several experts who spoke to the Montreal Gazette this week, raising concerns about the prospect of opening schools in three weeks.

But epidemiologists and pediatricians contend the health risks that come with keeping kids away from the classroom remain greater than the risks associated with sending them back — especially for the children themselves, who don’t tend to get as sick from the coronavirus. The experts admit, however, it is possible their return to school will fuel more community spread.

While treating patients on the COVID-19 ward at Ste-Justine Hospital, Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious disease clinician-researcher, has been struck by how well kids seem to handle the infection.

“It’s been fascinating to me to call a family (to inform them of a positive COVID-19 test) and sometimes they’re even shocked the result came back positive, because the child is already feeling better,” she said. “But what’s also interesting is that in that same family you can have a parent who is very sick, going to the hospital, whereas the child has already recovered.”

The virus affects young children differently, Kakkar said, leading her to believe that worries of children contracting COVID-19 at school and becoming gravely ill are largely inflated.

COVID-19 has so far killed no children in Canada, she said; less than 100 have been hospitalized with the virus, and less than 20 have landed in intensive care. Compare that with last year’s influenza season, she said, which saw 15,000 cases among children, 200 of whom ended up in the ICU and seven of whom died.

But though they don’t get as sick, there are new concerns about the role children play in spreading the virus. An article in the Medical Journal of Australia published online this week claimed that, contrary to claims made by some researchers, children do play an important role in spreading COVID-19.

“Research suggesting otherwise is hampered by substantial bias,” wrote the article’s author, Dr. Zoë Hyde. “Additionally, large clusters in school settings have been reported, with implications for the control of community transmission.”

Thursday 9:30 p.m. A surge of COVID-19 cases among Southwestern Ontario’s Mennonite communities is prompting the region’s public health offices to work together to keep the virus from spreading in the enclaves of farm families who lead a faith-based lifestyle.

From Huron-Perth to Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex, public health officials have reported a rise of positive cases among Low German-speaking Mennonite communities in recent weeks.

Chatham-Kent’s top public health doctor said “almost all” of their cases – 84 are active as of Friday – are members of the Low German Mennonite community.

As of Wednesday, in Huron-Perth, 10 of the region’s 74 cases are among Low German Mennonites, mostly in the Perth East area, which includes Millbank and Milverton.

Thursday 8:30 p.m. Mexico has passed the half-million mark in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Health Department reported 7,371 newly confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the country’s total for the pandemic to 505,751. The department reported 627 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, giving Mexico a total of 55,293.

Experts agree that due to Mexico’s extremely low testing rates, those numbers are undercounts and that the real figures may be two to three times higher. With only about 1.15 million tests conducted to date in a country of almost 130 million people, less than 1% of Mexicans have been tested.

Read more of Thursday’s coverage here.



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