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.

8:35 a.m. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the median age of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. has declined over the spring and summer, with Americans in their 20s now accounting for more cases than people in any other age group.

The findings suggest that if the U.S. wants to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, it will need more cooperation from young adults.

In May, the median age of U.S. residents with COVID-19 was 46. By July, it had dropped to 37, then rose slightly to 38 in August.

Likewise, in May, people in their 20s made up 15.5 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. At the time, they trailed people in their 30s (who accounted for 16.9 per cent of total cases) as well as people in their 40s and 50s (both of those age groups accounted for another 16.4 per cent of cases).

But by June, 20-somethings had taken over the top spot, making up 20.2 per cent of all cases. That figure rose to 23.2 per cent in July, then dropped back to 21 per cent in August.

The proportion of cases among Americans in their 30s also increased in June and July. But by August, it had fallen slightly below the level seen in May.

Meanwhile, the share of cases among adults 40 and older decreased steadily through the end of July, according to the study.

7:35 a.m. Britain’s treasury chief on Thursday announced a new income support program to help workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, responding to pressure from businesses and labour unions to step in with more direct support for people in precarious work situations.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of economic measures, including a program that subsidizes the wages of workers whose hours are cut due to the pandemic, during a speech to lawmakers.

The new economic plan would replace a furloughed worker program which is due to expire next month. Under that program, the government pays 80 per cent of the wages of workers who are placed on leave.

“The primary goal of our economic policy remains unchanged —to support people’s jobs — but the way we achieve that must evolve,” he said

The program comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the U.K., blunting the country’s economic recovery from a nationwide lockdown imposed in March. To underscore that the plan has wide support, Sunak appeared outside his office holding a copy of the plan flanked by representatives of the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

6:27 a.m. A person who used York Region Transit routes in Richmond Hill and Vaughan Sept. 15 has tested positive for COVID-19, York Region Public Health reports.

Public health stated it was first notified of the confirmed case Sept. 21.

The individual was wearing a mask while travelling on the YRT, in compliance with YRT’s mandatory face mask or covering bylaw, “reducing the risk of transmission of the virus to others”, York Region Public Health reports.

A public notice has been issued by York Region to assist with contact tracing, for individuals who rode on YRT route 90, travelling north along Leslie Street, from Don Mills to 16th Avenue, and YRT route 16, travelling west along 16th Avenue, between around 3:30 and 4 p.m. Sept. 15.

6:11 a.m. A widely watched indicator of German business confidence has risen for a fifth month in a row as Europe’s largest economy rebounds from the coronavirus shutdowns — but the index remains below its long term average and uncertainty is high with virus cases rising.

The Ifo institute’s index released Thursday rose to 93.4 points in September from 92.5 points in August. The index is based on a survey of thousands of businesses about their view of current conditions and expectations for the future.

In this case the current assessment rose while the expectations part levelled off.

After shrinking 9.7 per cent in the second quarter, the worst quarterly figure on record, the economy is rebounding from the severe shutdowns and restrictions on activity and movement of March, April and May.

Carsten Brzeski, chief eurozone economist at ING bank, said growth could rebound sharply with growth between 5 per cent and 10 per cent in the third quarter. But the recovery still faces hurdles and has a long way to go to regain its pre-pandemic footing.

Thursday 4:44 a.m. Swiss health authorities have ordered a quarantine for 2,500 students at a prestigious hospitality management school in the city of Lausanne after “significant outbreaks” of COVID-19 that are a suspected byproduct of off-campus partying.

Authorities in Switzerland’s Vaud canton, or region, said all undergraduates at the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, known as the Lausanne Hospitality Management University in English, have been ordered to quarantine both on- and off-campus because the number of outbreaks “made a more targeted closure impossible.”

The World Health Organization, national health authorities and others have cautioned that young people, who tend to have milder COVID-19 symptoms than older demographic groups, have been a key driver for the continued spread of the coronavirus in recent weeks, particularly in Europe.

“The earliest elements of an investigation indicate that the organization of one or more parties was at the origin of these many outbreaks of infection,” the Vaud regional office said in a statement, adding that the parties seemed to take place before new containment measures in the region were announced on Sept. 15.

School administrators were taking “all necessary measures” to ensure that classes were continuing online, the statement said.

Thursday 4:08 a.m. Israel on Thursday moved to further tighten its second countrywide lockdown as coronavirus cases continued to soar.

The Cabinet voted to close all nonessential businesses, including open-air markets. Prayers and political demonstrations would be limited to open spaces and no more than 20 people, and participants would not be able to travel more than a kilometre (0.6 miles) from home for either.

The measures are set to go into force on Friday afternoon, as the country shuts down for the weekly Sabbath ahead of Yom Kippur on Sunday and Monday. Israel annually closes down for 24 hours in honour of the solemn holiday.

The restrictions are to last for at least two weeks, but synagogues will be allowed to open under restrictive conditions for Yom Kippur prayers.

The restrictions on demonstrations are subject to approval by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and the limits on both prayers and protests could spark a backlash. An anti-lockdown demonstration was planned for later in the day in front of the Knesset.

Israel’s politically influential ultra-Orthodox community has objected to limits on public prayer during the ongoing Jewish High Holidays, and opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have accused the government of using the lockdown as a cover to end weekly demonstrations against his handling of the crisis.

Israel is currently reporting nearly 7,000 new daily cases, making the outbreak in the country of 9 million people among the worst in the world on a per capita basis.

Israel won praise this spring when it swiftly moved to seal its borders and shut down most businesses. By May, its daily rate of new cases had dropped into the double-digits. But then it reopened the economy too quickly, leading to a surge of new infections over the summer.

Thursday 4 a.m. The fate of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government hangs in the balance as Parliament resumes all normal operations Thursday for the first time in six months.

Opposition parties will give their official responses to Wednesday’s speech from the throne but they’ve already signalled that Trudeau can’t count on support from any of them to survive the eventual confidence vote and avoid plunging the country into an election in the midst of a second wave of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conservatives were unequivocal: they will not support the throne speech.

The Bloc Quebecois was almost as categorical: Bloc MPs will not consider supporting the throne speech unless Trudeau agrees to fork over at least $28 billion more each year in unconditional transfer payments to provinces for health care, as demanded unanimously last week by premiers.

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Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is giving the government just one week to accede to that demand, in the expectation that the confidence vote on the throne speech will take place next week.

That leaves New Democrats as the Liberals’ most likely dance partner but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has conditions of his own: legislation assuring that Canadians left jobless due to the pandemic won’t have their emergency benefits cut and that Canadians who fall ill will get paid sick leave.

The government could meet the NDP’s conditions when it introduces promised legislation to transition jobless Canadians off the $500-per-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit and back onto a more flexible, generous employment insurance system.

Thursday 4 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is expected to continue the roll out of his fall pandemic preparedness plan Thursday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office has confirmed the announcement will provide spending details related to testing and case and contact management.

The premier has already announced the province will launch a bolstered flu shot campaign in the coming weeks in a bid to keep hospital capacity down.

On Wednesday, the government said that up to 60 pharmacies will begin offering COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic people starting Friday.

Other yet-to-be announced elements of the province’s plan will focus on quick identification, management and prevention of COVID-19 outbreaks. The strategy will also address ways to reduce health service backlogs, prepare for case surges and recruit and train health-care workers.

7:30 p.m. British Columbia health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases across the province continues to be too high.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and deputy health minister Stephen Brown say in a joint statement that thousands of residents are being forced to deal with the stress of self-isolating as a result of others not following proper COVID-19 safety precautions.

They say everyone needs to follow the proper safety guidelines to ensure businesses and communities can remain open.

B.C. announced 91 new cases on Wednesday for a total of 8,395.

6:30 p.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says families won’t likely be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but it’s not too late to save Christmas.

In an address to Canadians on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says the actions we take now will determine the course of the virus in Canada through the fall.

He says a second wave is underway in four provinces, with national daily case counts having tripled the last few weeks, and the fall could be much worse than the spring.

He says we got the pandemic under control then and we can do it again if we keep wearing masks, use the government’s exposure-alert app and obey other public health instructions.

Read more here: ‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving’: Trudeau says COVID-19 second wave underway

5:30 p.m. Ontario’s regional health units are reporting slightly fewer new cases than their recent average on Wednesday, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 5 p.m., the health units were reporting another 373 new confirmed or probable cases, slightly below a trend that has seen the rate of new infections grow at an accelerating pace since early August.

The province’s seven-day average for new cases is now at 403 new cases daily, the first time that rate has been above 400 since late May, and double what the health units were reporting just 10 days ago on Sept. 13.

Ontario last saw such rapid exponential growth before the pandemic’s first peak in the spring. Although Ontario is still well below that peak level — about 600 infections a day, reported in late April — the current rate of case growth, if sustained, would see the average eclipse that rate by early October.

Wednesday saw significant case totals reported across the province: Toronto reported 129 new cases; Ottawa reported 65; Peel Region had 62; York Regions added 35; Waterloo Region 17; Middlesex-London 12 and Halton Region 11.

The province has now seen a total of 50,417 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,876 deaths.

Four fatal cases were reported in the last 24 hours. Two in Peel Region and one each in Ottawa and Hamilton.

The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have since recovered, and the recent rise in cases has not yet resulted in an equivalent jump in hospitalizations or deaths. That’s in part because the recent increase has not yet hit the vulnerable outbreak settings — like long-term-care homes — which produced thousands of serious illnesses among highly vulnerable populations in the spring. Rates of hospitalization and death have also tended to lag behind weeks behind case jumps.

The province lists 3,652 active cases of the disease, a number that has been rising in recent weeks.

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’s rolling file



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