KEY FACTS

11:17 a.m.: Ontario reports 100 new cases, two more deaths

9:20 a.m.: Orovince’s credit rating remains stable despite pandemic

5:33 a.m.: Poll has Liberal in the lead

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.

4:20 p.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Ottawa will help First Nations schools protect against COVID-19 following calls for more dedicated funding.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation has accused the federal government of ignoring its urgent requests for supplies and funding needed for a safe back-to-school plan for its nearly 9,000 students in northern Ontario communities.

Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox said the organization has asked for $33 million to pay for personal protective equipment and sanitization supplies, but was told its plans are too “far-reaching.”

And he warned this could mean delaying the start of the school year in its 49 member First Nation communities — many remote and without the reliable internet infrastructure needed for online learning.

3:04 p.m. Manitoba health officials say the province’s latest COVID-19 death is linked to a previously reported outbreak at a nursing home.

A woman in her 90s has become the province’s 13th death related to COVID-19.

The government says this was a previously known case and is connected to the outbreak at Bethesda Place in Steinbach, southeast of Winnipeg.

Several staff and residents at the home have tested positive in the past week.

The province is reporting 25 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to date to 1,018.

Government data indicates many of the new cases are in Brandon, Winnipeg and the Niverville-Ritchot health district south of Winnipeg.

2:29 p.m. The number of Americans newly diagnosed with the coronavirus is falling — a development experts credit at least partly to increased wearing of masks — even as the outbreak continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the U.S. each day.

About 43,000 new cases are being reported daily across the country, down 21 per cent from early August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While the U.S., India and Brazil still have the highest numbers of new cases in the world, the downward trend is encouraging.

“It’s profoundly hopeful news,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who credits the American public’s growing understanding of how the virus spreads, more mask-wearing and, possibly, an increasing level of immunity.

“Hopefully all those factors are coming into play to get this virus under control in this country that’s really been battered by the pandemic,” she said.

The virus is blamed for more than 5.7 million confirmed infections and about 178,000 deaths in the U.S. Worldwide, the death toll is put at more than 810,000, with about 23.7 million cases.

2 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford is defending a new advertising campaign launched by his government to promote its school reopening plan.

Ford says opposition politicians who have criticized the ads are “playing politics” and his government needs to keep parents informed on back-to-school measures.

The premier could not say how much the ad buy will cost, but says it will continue despite the criticism.

The campaign features print advertisements and a 30-second radio segment touting the government’s efforts to consult widely with health and education professionals to create their strategy.

It also details some of the measures included in the plan and promotes a government website with more information.

Both the opposition New Democrats and Liberals say Premier Doug Ford should be spending the money to hire more teachers and increase physical distancing in schools.

The Progressive Conservative government’s plan has been criticized by school boards, teachers’ unions and some parents for not doing enough to cut class sizes in elementary schools.

2 p.m. Responding to an outcry from medical experts, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Tuesday apologized for overstating the life-saving benefits of treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma.

Scientists and medical experts have been pushing back against the claims about the treatment since President Donald Trump’s announcement on Sunday that the FDA had decided to issue emergency authorization for convalescent plasma, taken from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and rich in disease-fighting antibodies.

Trump hailed the decision as a historic breakthrough even though the treatment’s value has not been established. The announcement on the eve of Trump’s Republican National Convention raised suspicions that it was politically motivated to offset critics of the president’s handling of the pandemic.

Hahn had echoed Trump in saying that 35 more people out of 100 would survive the coronavirus if they were treated with the plasma. That claim vastly overstated preliminary findings of Mayo Clinic observations.

Hahn’s mea culpa comes at a critical moment for the FDA which, under intense pressure from the White House, is responsible for deciding whether upcoming vaccines are safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

1:35 p.m.: Quebec scientists and health-care professionals are urging the government to revise its back-to-school plan, saying the measures in place are inadequate to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

In an open letter sent Monday to Premier Francois Legault and other officials, some 150 signatories said the government’s health directives for students aren’t sufficient, school ventilation systems need to be updated, and families must be offered remote learning options.

The signatories are calling on the government to encourage social distancing within classrooms and require mask-wearing inside classrooms, and to oblige schools to screen for symptoms of COVID-19 when children return to school.

1:10 p.m.: Prince Edward Island is further easing restrictions on visits to long-term care homes beginning Sept. 1.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said today the changes will make life at seniors facilities as close to normal as possible given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison says there will be no limit on the number of visitors and residents can increase the number of people designated as a partner-in-care from one to three.

She says residents will also be allowed to go for drives with a partner-in-care and to go on overnight visits.

Family will be permitted to make visits between separate long-term care facilities provided infection-control measures are maintained.

Morrison says restrictions on the duration of visits are also being removed including for patients who are nearing their end of life.

She told reporters today that the safety of residents is always a priority. But residents, she said, have been missing a connection with family and friends over the past few months.

“So we are balancing that and have been for many weeks,” Morrison said. “So I think this is really almost back to normal in terms of visitation. We will be watching carefully because we may have to make changes if our epidemiology changes as well.”

1:10 p.m.: P.E.I. reported no new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, and has three active cases. In total, the Island has had 44 confirmed cases, all linked to travel, with 41 cases now considered recovered.

“P.E.I. is in the enviable position of not having had any widespread community transmission of COVID-19 up to this point,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said.

12:41 p.m.: The federal government is pledging $82.5 million to improve access and address growing demand for mental health services in Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says access to many mental health services for Indigenous communities have been disrupted due to the pandemic.

Some services have shifted to virtual and telehealth mental treatment options, which has created obstacles for people living in remote communities that have limited connectivity.

Miller says the funding will support access to additional services, transitioning some to virtual platforms and supporting Indigenous partners in developing new ways to address substance use and to improve access to treatment.

He says the news funds are a response to the advocacy of many Indigenous leaders who have pushed for enhanced mental wellness supports.

Representatives from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities have been pushing for support for mental wellness as a core need of the COVID-19 response.

12:35 p.m.: School bus drivers in Ontario say they need guidance from the province and school boards on COVID-19 safety protocols including social distancing, use of face masks and sanitizing routines.

With just a few weeks until the start of the new school year, the drivers, many of whom are retirees, say they still have many questions about what they’re supposed to do when a child on the bus is sick.

“We know how important it is to get kids to school, but we don’t want to be that weak link, don’t want to be responsible for an outbreak or something in our broader based community,” said Debbie Montgomery, president of Unifor Local 4268, which represents the bus drivers.

“We want to get this right and we want to mitigate as many risks as possible.”

12:34 p.m.: Opposition politicians are criticizing a new advertising campaign launched by the Ontario government to publicize its school reopening plan.

The 30-second radio advertisement touts the government’s efforts to consult widely with health and education professionals to create their strategy.

It also details some of the measures included in the plan and promotes a government website with more information.

Both the opposition New Democrats and Liberals say Premier Doug Ford should be spending the money to hire more teachers and increase physical distancing in schools.

The Progressive Conservative government’s plan has been criticized by school boards, teachers’ unions and some parents for not doing enough to cut class sizes in elementary schools.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the advertisement aims to provide parents and students with information about school reopening.

12 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 62 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

But officials said today the total number of deaths increased only by two, to 5,746, because one death previously added to the tally turned out to be unrelated.

Hospitalizations increased by three to 118, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 12.

Officials completed 9,231 tests on Aug. 23, the last day for which testing data is available. That number is significantly lower than in recent days.

There have been a total of 61,803 COVID-19 cases in Quebec, of which 54,850 are considered recovered.

11:52 a.m.: New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

Health officials said today the new case involves an individual between the age of 10 and 19 located in the Moncton region.

The case is travel-related and the infected person is self-isolating.

There have been 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and 178 patients have recovered.

The province has reported two deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. There are currently 10 active cases in the province.

As of today, 59,368 COVID-19 tests have been conducted.

11:24 a.m.: The British government came under renewed pressure Tuesday to recommend high school students in England wear face masks, at least in communal areas such as hallways, after the advice in Scotland was changed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government is ready to follow suit and advise a change in certain situations if the medical evidence deems face masks to be necessary in containing the spread of the coronavirus.

“On the issue of whether or not to wear masks in some contexts, you know, we’ll look at the the changing medical evidence as we go on,” he told reporters while on a visit to a shipyard in Devon in southwest England. “If we need to change the advice, then of course we will.”

For now, the advice of the British government, which oversees schools in England, is that face masks aren’t necessary. It points to a recent report from Public Health England that showed very few virus infections during the partial reopening of schools for younger students in June.

The evidence from around the world is that children face less severe virus symptoms than do adults, with the elderly the most vulnerable to severe infection and death. However, they can clearly be sources of transmission and governments around the world are grappling about how school reopenings will impact on the virus’ spread within families and in the wider community

11:17 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 100 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths related to the coronavirus.

The total number of cases now stands at 41,607, which includes 2,800 deaths and 37,748 cases marked as resolved.

There were 75 cases newly marked as resolved in today’s report.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 30 of Ontario’s 34 health regions are reporting fewer than five new cases.

She says 18 of those reported no new cases at all.

The province was able to complete 20,013 tests in the previous day.

The Star’s Rob Ferguson has more details.

10:20 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 100 new cases of COVID-19, as the province processed more than 20,000 tests. Locally, 30 of Ontario’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 18 reporting no new cases, Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.

9:20 a.m.: Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says the province’s credit rating has remained stable in 2020 despite the costs incurred by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Financial Accountability Office says in a report today that all four major international rating agencies have reaffirmed the province’s credit at either AA- or A+, the fifth and sixth highest ratings.

But the FAO warns that those ratings are all contingent on the province’s post-pandemic plan including steady decreases in budget deficit and lowering debt burden.

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Earlier this month, the province announced that its deficit projection had nearly doubled in three months because of the outbreak.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the deficit would be $38.5 billion, up from the $20.5 billion projected in March.

Premier Doug Ford has said COVID-19 will also scuttle the government’s previous plans to balance the budget by 2023-2024.

8:40 a.m.: BMO Financial Group put aside a hefty amount of money again to protect itself from bad loans, but still managed to beat expectations and post a $1.23-billion profit in its latest quarter.

The Toronto-based bank said Tuesday that provisions for credit losses amounted to $1.05 billion in its third quarter, up from $306 million last year and down from $1.11 billion last quarter.

Patrick Cronin, the bank’s chief risk officer, attributed the high provisions to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said he has confidence in the bank’s ability to operate in such an environment.

“There continues to be a high degree of uncertainty around the trajectory of the economic recovery, but we feel with this quarter’s addition to our performing loan allowance, we are well prepared and provisioned,” he told analysts.

8 a.m.: A 48-hour curfew took hold Tuesday in the Gaza Strip for the first time since the start of the global pandemic, a day after the first cases of community transmission of the coronavirus were detected.

Schools, businesses, markets and mosques were ordered to close and police patrols stopped and inspected the few cars passing through checkpoints.

In the al-Maghazi refugee camp, home to the four new confirmed cases, policemen from Hamas, the Islamic militant group ruling the Palestinian enclave, roamed the empty streets to enforce the lockdown.

On Monday, authorities announced that four members of a family had tested positive for COVID-19, the first infections outside quarantine facilities.

All Gazans returning home through Israel or Egypt have been required to remain isolated at designated centres for 21 days, to prevent the virus from spreading in the impoverished, blockaded, and densely populated territory.

7:39 a.m. Scotiabank reported a third-quarter profit of $1.30 billion, down from $1.98 billion a year ago as its provisions for bad loans climbed higher due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank said Tuesday the profit amounted to $1.04 per diluted share for the quarter ended July 31 compared with $1.50 per diluted share a year earlier.

Revenue totalled $7.73 billion, up from $7.66 billion in the same quarter last year.

Scotiabank says its provision for credit losses totalled $2.18 billion for the quarter, up from $713 million a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, Scotiabank says it earned $1.04 per diluted share in the quarter, down from an adjusted profit of $1.88 per share in the same quarter last year.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.11 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

“While our retail banking businesses in Canada and international markets were adversely impacted by the pandemic, the bank’s performance was aided by strong results in global banking and markets and wealth management,” Scotiabank chief executive Brian Porter said in a statement.

6:45 a.m.: Parents have spent the summer worrying about how their children will stay safe once they go back to school next month. But there’s an issue to confront before kids even set foot in the classroom: In the age of COVID-19, how can students keep healthy on their way to school?

Anxiety around student transportation during the pandemic will be particularly acute for families who have to rely on the TTC, which is bracing for an increase in ridership and crowding when schools reopen and more people resume commuting to work in September.

Read the full story from the Star’s Ben Spurr here.

6:45 a.m.: The tug-of-war between the public’s right to know where COVID-19 outbreaks are happening and protecting the privacy of those who test positive could make it difficult to control the disease if there’s a resurgence in the fall, experts warn.

Only seven of Ontario’s 34 public health units report occupation outside of health-care professions publicly, a Star analysis found, and the provincial government has left the decision on whether to publicize workplace outbreaks up to individual units.

The result is an inconsistent mix of public information about the presence of the virus in workplaces across the province.

Read the full story from the Star here.

6:42 a.m.: The United Nations chief says the tourist industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with $320 billion lost in exports in the first five months of the year and over 120 million jobs at risk.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a policy briefing and video address released Tuesday that tourism is the third-largest export sector, behind fuels and chemicals, and accounted for 7 per cent of trade last year.

“It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more,” he said. “It boosts economies. … It allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity.”

But the UN chief said that in the first five months of 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half.

Guterres said the tourism impact of COVID-19 has been a “major shock” for richer developed nations “but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.”

Tourism for some of those countries represents over 20 per cent of their GDP, he said.

6:41 a.m.: India has reported more than 60,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 3.17 million.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 848 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 58,390.

Meanwhile, India’s recovery rate has reached nearly 76 per cent as more than 2.4 million people affected by the virus have been discharged from hospitals. The Health Ministry said that 66,550 patients — the highest in a day — recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours.

The Health Ministry said the country’s COVID-19 tests per million has risen sharply to 26,016 as cumulative tests surged to nearly 36 million.

6:40 a.m.: Hong Kong will ease some social distancing measures later this week, allowing beauty salons and cinemas to reopen and relaxing an evening dine-in ban, as daily coronavirus infections in the city dwindled.

Restaurants now banned from providing dine-in services after 6 p.m. will be allowed to serve customers until 9 p.m. starting Friday. Businesses such as cinemas, beauty salons and some outdoor sports venues will be allowed to reopen, and residents will no longer be required to wear masks when exercising outdoors or while in country parks.

“Under the new normal, it is not possible for us to wait until there are no more local cases before relaxing the social distancing measures,” Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s health minister said in a news conference on Tuesday.

6:40 a.m.: Australian hot spot Victoria state on Tuesday recorded an increase in new coronavirus cases, although health authorities are confident infections are continuing to trend lower. Victoria’s Health Department reported 148 new infections in the latest 24-hour period and eight deaths. State capital Melbourne is around half way through a six-week lockdown.

6:39 a.m.: South Korea is closing schools and switching back to remote learning in the greater capital area as the country counted its 12th straight day of triple-digit daily increases in coronavirus cases.

Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said Tuesday that at least 193 students and teachers were found infected over the past two weeks in the Seoul metropolitan region, where a viral surge has threatened to erase the country’s hard-won epidemiological gains.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 280 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the 12-day total to 3,175. The country’s caseload is now at 17,945, including 310 deaths.

Yoo said most children at kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools will receive online classes at least until Sept. 11. High school seniors will continue to go to school so their studies are not disrupted ahead of the crucial national college exams.

5:33 a.m.: A new survey suggests Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are well placed if they end up losing a confidence vote this fall, seen as the party best able to care for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic and to get the economy back on its feet.

Respondents to the online survey, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, were split about the prospect of a federal election this fall, with 42 per cent opposed to the idea and 38 per cent in favour.

But if there were an election today, 38 per cent of decided voters said they’d support the Liberals, compared to 30 per cent for the Conservatives, 18 per cent for the NDP and six per cent for the Greens; the Bloc Québécois were at 33 per cent in Quebec, virtually tied with the Liberals at 32 per cent.

When asked specifically which party would earn their vote should Erin O’Toole be at the helm of the Conservatives, Liberal support actually bumped up one point while Conservative support dropped to 27 per cent.

5:24 a.m.: Ontario’s fiscal watchdog will release a report this morning on the province’s credit rating.

The report from the Financial Accountability Office will look at the rating since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the province announced that its deficit projection had nearly doubled in three months because of the outbreak.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the deficit would be $38.5 billion, up from the $20.5 billion projected in March.

5:15 a.m.: Some school bus drivers say they have not received COVID-19 safety protocols with just weeks to go before the start of class.

The drivers, who are represented by Unifor, will hold a press conference this morning to discuss their request for information on safety measures on their vehicles.

The union says many of its drivers are senior citizens and are more vulnerable to the virus.

2:57 a.m.: Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday as investors hung onto hopes the coronavirus pandemic may come under control with treatments being developed.

Few details emerged from a phone meeting held Tuesday phone meeting held Tuesday by top U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators as part of the “Phase 1” truce aimed at ending a tariff war between the two biggest global economies.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said the two sides discussed strengthening co-ordination of economic policies. Its announcement gave no details.

Markets have floated higher in recent days in anticipation of progress toward a vaccine or effective treatment for the coronavirus pandemic that has hammered economies and killed more than 800,000 people.

Click here to read more of Monday’s coverage.



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