10:15 a.m.: Ontario reports 132 new cases
7:49 a.m. Thailand reports first local coronavirus case in 100 days
7 a.m.: Toronto businesses brace for little or no business from TIFF
5 a.m.: TREB says home sales hit record for August
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.
5 p.m. Thursday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting another 146 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Star’s latest count.
As was the case Wednesday, the vast majority of the new cases came in Peel Region, which reported a jump of 70 new infections, and Toronto, which reported 35.
The total in Peel, which has seen cases spike significantly this week, was the most the region has reported in any single day since late June. According to the health unit, the vast majority of cases reported in the region this week have been in Brampton.
Among Ontario’s 34 health units, Ottawa was the only other to report in the double digits Thursday, with 22 new cases.
As the rate of infection has gone up steadily inside the GTA since early August, the rate of infection in most of the rest of the province have meanwhile been flat to falling — although the GTA growth is now also fuelling an overall province-wide increase.
Ontario saw an average of 130 cases reported daily over the last week. The same seven-day average hit a recent low of 85 cases a day on Aug. 16.
Even with the recent increases, the rate of infection remains well below the worst of the pandemic; Ontario saw that seven-day case average reach a mid-April peak of nearly 600 cases daily.
One new fatal case was reported Thursday, in Windsor-Essex. Meanwhile, Peel Region adjusted its tally of fatal cases down by one.
The province has now seen a total of 44,853 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,850 deaths.
The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have since recovered. Ontario lists slightly more than 1,200 active cases of the disease, although that number has been going up in recent weeks.
The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases. This means 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The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system. In the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”
3:37 p.m. There have been 130,272 cases of COVID-19, of which 9,140 resulted in deaths (and 115,287 have been resolved), according to The Canadian Press.
This breaks down as follows (NOTE: The Star does its own count for Ontario; see elsewhere this file.):
Quebec: 62,933 confirmed (including 5,767 deaths, 55,615 resolved)Ontario: 42,686 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,625 resolved)Alberta: 14,180 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,535 resolved)British Columbia: 5,952 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,605 resolved)Saskatchewan: 1,634 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,574 resolved)Manitoba: 1,264 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 791 resolved)Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including three deaths, 265 resolved)New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including two deaths, 186 resolved)Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed, all of which have been resolvedYukon: 15 confirmed, all of which have been resolvedRepatriated Canadians account for 13 confirmed cases, all of which have been resolvedNorthwest Territories: five confirmed, all of which have been resolvedNunavut says it has no confirmed cases.
1:45 p.m.: The Quebec government will reconsider keeping bars open if the province continues to see an upward trend of new daily COVID-19 cases, Premier Francois Legault said Thursday.
He told reporters that if authorities need to confine Quebecers once again, they will close off specific regions of the province or smaller areas within regions as opposed to locking down the entire population.
Legault was reacting to news that health authorities reported 187 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, representing a significant jump compared to a few weeks ago when the province was reporting fewer than 100 cases a day.
“Over the past two weeks we’ve seen an increase in confirmed cases,” Legault said in St-Raymond, about 60 kilometres west of Quebec City. “We have to be prudent.”
He said there are no immediate plans to close any bars in light of an outbreak at a Quebec City bar that has been connected to nearly 50 recent cases of COVID-19.
Legault said if the number of new daily cases continues to increase, authorities will revisit recent decisions to open bars and to allow indoor public gatherings of up to 250 people.
1:15 p.m.: Nova Scotia’s premier is accusing the province’s teachers’ union of “creating a bunch of noise and rhetoric” by suggesting public schools are unsafe and in “chaos” because educators haven’t been given enough time to prepare for the resumption of classes.
Premier Stephen McNeil was responding to a litany of allegations issued Wednesday by Paul Wozney, president of the 10,000-member Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Wozney issued a statement saying union members have reported ventilation systems that haven’t been inspected or repaired, windows that won’t open, a lack of proper handwashing stations and hallways filled with furniture that has been moved to make more space in classrooms.
The union leader asked Education Minister Zach Churchill to postpone the beginning of the school year by two days to give teachers, administrators and school staff more time to “sort out the turmoil” and meet new requirements aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
McNeil rejected that request today, saying there is no evidence any school is in chaos, and insisted the province’s “kids will be safe.”
However, the premier also said he recognized that many teachers, parents and students are probably feeling anxious about the resumption of classes, saying it will sometimes be difficult adapting to living with an ongoing pandemic.
1:14 p.m. Ontario is easing restrictions for visitors to nursing homes after Labour Day as COVID-19 cases continue creeping upward, with 132 new infections reported Thursday.
That was down from 133 from the previous day and the third-highest since July 31, pushing the number of people with active infections across the province to 1,249 — the most since Aug. 3 amid increasing concerns about a resurgence of the highly contagious virus in major urban centres with children set to return to school.
Health Minister Christine Elliott emphasized that most of the new cases are in the GTA and the nation’s capital with many areas having no new infections, according to the ministry statistics released Thursday.
“Peel is reporting 45 new cases, with 31 in Toronto and 22 in Ottawa. Every other public health unit is reporting five or fewer cases, with 18 units reporting no new cases,” she tweeted. There are 34 regional public health units in Ontario.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care issued an updated policy clarifying that the 626 nursing homes in the province can allow caregivers — including family or friends of residents — to visit and help them “at any time, including during an outbreak, subject to direction from the local public health unit” starting Tuesday.
Each resident, or their substitute decision maker, can designate a maximum of two caregivers who can visit “without time limits,” the ministry said in a statement. A caregiver can also be someone hired to help a resident with feeding, grooming and hygiene, mental stimulation and mobility issues.
Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson
12:40 p.m.: A lawyer representing a group of Quebec parents is in court today trying to compel the province’s Education Department to provide an online learning option for all families who want it.
Only children with serious medical conditions or who live with someone at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 are able to get an exemption from physically attending elementary and high school classes.
Human rights lawyer Julius Grey told Quebec Superior Court Justice Frederic Bachand the decision to send one’s child to class during the COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely private and personal one.
He’s asking for a safeguard order allowing parents access to online courses for their children immediately, before the case is argued on its merits at a later date.
Grey says the measure would not be difficult to implement, since the government is already offering online courses for students with a medical exemption.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault responded to the lawsuit today, saying the province is facing a teacher shortage and doesn’t have enough educators to offer online learning for all those who want that service.
12:25 p.m.: Canadian Armed Forces members and their civilian colleagues in the Department of National Defence are being strongly encouraged to download the federal government’s smartphone application for tracking potential exposure to COVID-19.
Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas say they understand some may have concerns when it comes to privacy and secrecy.
But they say the app has been cleared by Defence Department experts and that while installing it is voluntary, using it is one way military personnel and defence officials can help prevent a second wave of COVID-19.
The call to arms comes as Newfoundland and Labrador joins Ontario as the only provinces using the app, though Saskatchewan has said it is considering whether to join.
Quebec has indicated it does not plan to adopt the app for now.
The government says the app has been downloaded 2.2 million times since it was rolled out in Ontario in late July and that 112 people have voluntarily used it to identify themselves as having COVID-19.
The app uses Bluetooth to exchange randomly generated numbers with nearby smartphones and alerts users if they have been close to someone who later enters a code saying he or she has tested positive for the virus that causes the illness.
12:15 p.m.: South African healthcare workers have protested against poor working conditions and urged the government to end corruption in the purchase of COVID-19 personal protective equipment.
The protesters gathered Thursday in Pretoria and Cape Town, charging that the lives of healthcare workers are endangered as some health facilities have inadequate supplies of protective equipment like surgical masks.
The union leading the demonstrations, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, has threatened that its 200,000 public workers will go on strike on Sept. 10 if their issues are not addressed.
11:15 a.m.: The number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Quebec is trending upwards.
Health authorities reported 187 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The province also reported three additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Quebec has had a total of 62,933 COVID-19 cases and 5,767 deaths linked to the virus since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations decreased by nine compared with the prior day, for a total of 100. Of those patients, 20 are in intensive care.
The spike in new cases comes amid news of a COVID-19 outbreak at a Quebec City bar, which is connected to about 50 recent cases of COVID-19.
10:15 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 132 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today, with the bulk of the new diagnoses concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area.
Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted that Toronto recorded 31 new cases, with neighbouring Peel Region reporting 45.
Elliott says 22 new cases were identified in Ottawa, but all other health regions in the province recorded five or fewer new cases in the past 24 hours.
She says 18 of the province’s 34 public health units have not documented any new cases at all.
The province did not report any new deaths associated with the virus.
Elliott says Ontario completed more than 26,000 COVID-19 tests over the past day.
The province is now reporting a total of 42,686 confirmed cases of the virus, while the death toll stands at 2,812.
10:15 a.m.: Confidence in the Canadian economy took a dramatic dive over the summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — a whipsaw pivot seen around the world but sharper in Canada than any other country surveyed in a new global public opinion poll.
Sixty-one per cent of Canadians who took part in the Pew Research Center survey released Thursday described the country’s current economic situation as bad, more than twice the 27 per cent who said the same thing last year.
Of the 14 countries included in the poll, the 12 that were also asked the same question last year all reported double-digit reversals in sentiment, with Canada’s 34 percentage-point change leading the way.
“The sharpest uptick in negative assessments has come in Canada, where second-quarter losses in gross domestic product were estimated at 12 per cent,” the centre said in a release. “Negative assessments have also grown by 30 percentage points in the UK, U.S. and Australia.”
The Canadian segment of the survey, conducted by phone with 1,037 adult respondents between June 15 and July 27, carries a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
10:02 a.m. Walt Disney World will loosen up its no-costumes rule for Magic Kingdom visitors as it moves toward the Halloween season.
From Sept. 15 to Oct. 31, all guests can wear their “funniest, Disney-ist, most creative costumes” to the theme park during regular opening hours, according to a post on the official Disney Parks Blog.
Full-blown costume masks will be allowed only for children younger than 14 years old. And all guests will still be required to wear face coverings as they have at Disney World since the resort reopened in mid-July after its coronavirus shutdown.
Disney says Magic Kingdom will be home to a Halloween-themed cavalcade featuring Mickey Mouse and pals and characters in fall attire on the horse-drawn trolley on Main Street USA. The theme park’s orange Halloween decor will be put up.
10 a.m.: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says he and his family tested positive for the coronavirus.
Johnson announced their diagnosis in an 11-plus minute video on Instagram on Wednesday. He said he was shocked after hearing their positive tests, calling the ordeal “one of the most challenging and difficult things we’ve ever had to endure.”
The actor said he along with his wife, Lauren Hashian, and two young daughters contracted the virus, but have now recovered. He said his daughters “bounced back” after having sore throats for a couple days.
But for Johnson and his wife, he said they both had a “rough go.”
Johnson said he and his family caught the virus from close family friends, who told him they did not know where they contracted the virus.
Johnson said the ordeal has made him more conscious. He made several suggestions to combat the virus such as wearing a mask, boost your immune system and commit to wellness.
9:38 a.m.: The number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week, evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs.
The latest figures, released Thursday by the Labor Department, suggest that nearly six months after the eruption of the coronavirus, the economy is still struggling to sustain a recovery and rebuild a job market that was devastated by the recession. In the previous week, more than 1 million had sought jobless aid.
All told, the government said that 13.3 million people are continuing to receive traditional jobless benefits, up from 1.7 million a year ago.
9:32 a.m. The Turkish soccer federation has reversed an earlier decision and now says league games will be played without spectators in the first half of the new season.
The federation had planned to allow stadiums around the country to operate at a maximum of 30 per cent of capacity from October.
The federation says it is heeding the advice of Turkey’s scientific council to keep fans out of stadiums.
The decision comes as the number of daily infections in the country have risen above 1,500 and COVID-19-related deaths have reached their highest since mid-May.
9:24 a.m.: Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit was $2.45 billion in July as both imports and exports continued to post strong gains, but remained below pre-pandemic levels.
The result compared with an updated deficit figure of $1.59 billion for June. The agency’s initial estimate for that month had been a deficit of $3.19 billion for the month.
Economists on average had expected a deficit of $2.5 billion for July, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Statistics Canada says the motor vehicles and parts product category helped boost both imports and exports for the month.
Imports for July rose 12.7 per cent to $47.9 billion as imports of motor vehicles and parts increased 50.3 per cent, while exports rose 11.1 per cent to $45.4 billion as exports of motor vehicles and parts increased 37.0 per cent.
Compared with February, the month before the pandemic brought the economy to a near halt, imports were down 4.1 per cent and exports were off 6.0 per cent.
8:51 a.m.: The leaders of the two provinces most ravaged by the pandemic will hold a summit next week on boosting their recession-hobbled economies and girding for a second wave of COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault and their cabinets will meet in Mississauga next Tuesday and Wednesday.
“As the economic heart of Canada, Ontario and Qubec have often joined forces to create prosperity for the people of our two provinces,” Ford said in a statement Thursday.
“While the path to economic recovery won’t be easy, we don’t have to go it alone. Our provinces must now work together at this critical juncture to help drive the country forward. I look forward to hosting Premier Legault and members of his cabinet to fast-track a shared path to recovery,” he said.
Legault said it is essential for Quebec and Ontario to lead the Canadian recovery.
Read the full story by the Star’s Robert Benzie
8:20 a.m. The confirmed death toll from the coronavirus went over 50,000 in the Middle East on Thursday as the pandemic continues.
That’s according to a count from The Associated Press, based on official numbers offered by health authorities across the region.
Those numbers still may be an undercount, though, as testing in war-torn nations like Libya and Yemen remains extremely limited. The top U.N. official for Libya on Wednesday warned the coronavirus pandemic in the war-ravaged country appears to be “spiraling out of control.” Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who hold parts of the nation, have refused to release virus statistics.
The hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which saw the region’s first major outbreak. Over 21,900 people have died there from the virus, with over 380,000 confirmed cases and 328,000 recoveries.
8:04 a.m.: The amount of clean electricity wasted in Ontario is expected to increase significantly this year as a result of the changes in energy consumption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the association representing the province’s engineers.
The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers released an updated analysis today that found Ontario wasted a total of 6.5 terawatt-hours of clean electricity last year, which it says is enough to power 720,000 average-sized homes for a year.
The organization says that’s a 12-per-cent increase in wasted electricity compared with 2018 — and it should go up further this year in light of the pandemic.
It says Ontario’s electricity system is built to support businesses operating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a large percentage of homes left idle for at least eight hours a day.
The group says those patterns have “drastically” changed in the last six months, largely due to shifts in workplace and business operations, leading to an “inevitable increase in wasted electricity.”
It says while there have been some periods of peak demand, there remain “many, many hours” where surplus electricity is generated and either wasted or exported at low prices.
That represents a “wasted economic and environmental opportunity,” the association says.
7:49 a.m. A prison inmate in Thailand has tested positive for the coronavirus in the country’s first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days, health officials said Thursday.
They identified the inmate as a 37-year-old man arrested for drug abuse who was brought to prison in Bangkok on Aug. 26 and tested positive Wednesday at the prison’s health centre.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday had congratulated the nation for having achieved 100 days without any confirmed local cases of the coronavirus. The last person to test positive was on May 24.
Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic, even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case. But its economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry, and by a drop in exports.
7:48 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his virtual tour of Canada Thursday, with electronic visits to the Atlantic provinces.
He conducted a virtual tour of British Columbia on Wednesday, meeting with Premier John Horgan and consulting with business and environmental leaders about how to ensure a green economic recovery from the devastating impact of the pandemic.
Trudeau is planning to unveil what he promises will be a bold recovery plan in a throne speech re-opening Parliament on Sept. 23. The speech will be put to a confidence vote, which could potentially result in the defeat of Trudeau’s minority Liberal government.
With the possibility of a fall election in mind, Thursday’s Atlantic tour appears to have a more political flavour. Trudeau is to be joined by local Liberal MPs as he visits businesses that have used various federal emergency aid programs to stay afloat during the health crisis.
7:33 a.m. West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek and Leipzig striker Patrik Schick have been quarantined and will miss the Czech Republic’s UEFA Nations League game in Slovakia on Friday.
The team said Thursday that health authorities decided to isolate the two because they were in close contact with a staff member of the national team who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
The two won’t travel with the team to Slovakia for the game in Bratislava despite both testing negative for the coronavirus.
Slavia Prague goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar also left the team at the request of his club as a preventive measure.
It is not immediately clear if the players will be available for Monday’s Nations League game against Scotland in the Czech city of Olomouc.
7 a.m. When the first weeks of September roll around, nearly every inch of Yvonne Yang’s Pistil Flowers shops is typically covered in orders for the Toronto International Film Festival.
Hotels want fresh blooms to greet high-profile guests; production companies and sponsors like to send congratulatory florals to stars of big films; and event planners and restaurants need a touch of nature to brighten up their spaces for everyone flocking to town.
“September’s generally busy because everyone’s back to work and things are happening and then TIFF just drops and it’s usually a lot of last-minute ordering,” said Yang.
“Usually you have to make it work.”
Yang’s not expecting that this year. TIFF has downsized its slate from the usual 200-plus films to about 50, and while it will offer some in-person screenings and drive-ins, the bulk of the action will be online because Hollywood is staying home and COVID-19 is still lurking.
Read the full story
6 a.m.: The CNE is reporting a loss of $6 million after cancelling this year’s fair due to COVID-19, casting the future of the event into doubt, the executive director said Wednesday.
Unless governments step in to help or the CNE is able to win leasing or licensing concessions from the City of Toronto, it’s possible the historic fair won’t be able to operate past 2021 — and it if can’t open next year due to COVID-19, it may not have a future at all.
“That is a very real possibility,” said executive director Darrell Brown, adding that he doesn’t believe governments won’t step in to save the fair, which has been operating annually since 1879.
Read the exclusive story from Francine Kopun here.
5 a.m.: The pandemic has stretched the usually busy spring real estate season right through the summer with GTA home prices hitting another record last month as the market saw a surge of condo listings, and buyers competing for detached and semi-detached houses.
The average selling price of all home categories — ground level housing and condos — rose 20 per cent year over year in August to $951,404, up $7,738 from July’s average.
Transactions also soared to a record 10,775 sales in August, a 40.3 per cent increase over August 2019, said the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) on Thursday.
Read the full story from Tess Kalinowski here.
4:44 a.m.: A pregnant woman said Thursday she didn’t know she had broken any law when she was handcuffed by police in front of her children in her Australian home and led away in pyjamas for allegedly inciting activists to demonstrate against pandemic lockdown.
Zoe Buhler’s partner helped her livestream the arrest on Wednesday at her home where she lives with two children, aged 3 and 4, in the Victoria state city of Ballarat. The video has been viewed millions of times.
The 28-year-old has since been charged with using social media platforms to incite others to break pandemic restrictions by attending weekend rallies.
Victoria is Australia’s COVID-19 hot spot and its capital Melbourne has been under lockdown restrictions unprecedented in Australia since early August.
4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 3, 2020:
There are 129,923 confirmed cases in Canada.
_ Quebec: 62,746 confirmed (including 5,764 deaths, 55,515 resolved)
_ Ontario: 42,554 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,506 resolved)
_ Alberta: 14,180 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,535 resolved)
_ British Columbia: 5,952 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,605 resolved)
_ Saskatchewan: 1,624 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,571 resolved)
_ Manitoba: 1,244 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 776 resolved)
_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)
_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)
_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)
_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 44 resolved)
_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)
_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases
_ Total: 129,923 (0 presumptive, 129,923 confirmed including 9,135 deaths, 115,050 resolved)
3 a.m.: India has registered a record single-day spike of 83,883 new cases, driving the country overall tally to 3.85 million. The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 1,043 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 67,376.
India has been reporting the highest daily increases for more than three weeks. The ministry said the country’s fatality rate had declined to 1.76% and its deaths per million population was “one of the lowest in the world.” Experts say deaths could be substantially undercounted in several states.
3 a.m.: Beijing’s main international airport on Thursday began receiving international flights again from a limited number of countries considered at low risk of coronavirus infection.
Passengers flying in from Cambodia, Greece, Denmark, Thailand, Pakistan, Austria, Canada and Sweden, must have first shown a negative coronavirus test before boarding, city government spokesperson Xu Hejian told reporters.
Passenger arrivals will be limited to roughly 500 per day during a trial period and all will need to undergo additional testing for the virus on arrival, followed by two weeks of quarantine. The first flight under the arrangement, Air China Flight 746, arrived from Pnom Penh, Cambodia, just before 7 a.m.
Wednesday: In planning documents sent last week to public health agencies around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described preparations for two coronavirus vaccines they refer to simply as Vaccine A and Vaccine B. The technical details of the vaccines, including the time between doses and their storage temperatures, match well with the two vaccines furthest along in clinical tests in the United States, made by Moderna and Pfizer.
Read Wednesday’s rolling file