The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
11:17 a.m. Quebec is reporting 843 new cases of COVID-19 today and 12 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Officials say four of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours and eight took place between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10.
The province has now reported 86,976 COVID-19 cases and 5,965 deaths since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations increased by 20 cases today compared to the previous day, for a total of 457.
Of those, 75 people were in intensive care — an increase of three in the past 24 hours.
The province says it conducted 19,161 COVID-19 tests on Saturday, the last date for which the testing data is available.
11:01 a.m. Long-term care homes were neglected as Ontario focused on preparing its hospitals for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients when the pandemic hit, doctors told an independent inquiry recently.
But those nursing homes — which had insufficient personal protective equipment, a lack of universal masking policies and physicians refusing to enter facilities over fears of the virus — were in fact where the surge materialized during the first wave, the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission heard.
Doctors from the non-profit Ontario Long-Term Care Clinicians organization testified before the inquiry at the end of September and detailed how ill-prepared the sector was for the spread of the novel coronavirus. The inquiry isn’t open to the public but transcripts of testimony are posted online days later.
“In the first wave we didn’t understand that the surge was happening in long-term care,” said Dr. Evelyn Williams, a longtime physician and past president of the organization.
“There were empty beds in the hospital, and in the long-term care home, which was full, they couldn’t — they didn’t have PPE. They could not actually look after everyone who was sick well because they didn’t have the staff, and they couldn’t move people around.”
COVID-19 tore through long-term care homes in the pandemic’s first wave and has killed more than 1,950 residents. Provincial data shows outbreaks have been increasing in the homes once more as the second wave takes hold.
The commission, led by the Superior Court’s associate chief justice Frank Marrocco, will investigate how the virus spread in the long-term care system and come up with recommendations.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, the chief medical officer of Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, told the inquiry that many homes were directed to keep residents out of hospitals as much as possible in order to free up space in hospitals.
That proved to be a deadly decision after dozens of homes were overwhelmed by the virus, the inquiry heard.
The doctors told the commission that long-term care homes initially followed the World Health Organization’s early guidelines on the novel coronavirus and looked for fever, cough and shortness of breath as symptoms.
“We were unaware at the beginning of this pandemic about asymptomatic spread until after universal masking was recommended in our sector — and it was only recommended after,” said Collins,
“It had already been implemented in the acute care sector. Staff, as well, were only tested if they were symptomatic. Well, many of them were asymptomatic, had not been tested, and were not privy to universal masking strategies.”
It turns out, in hindsight, that the homes were looking for the wrong symptoms, she said.
“What we came to discover is that, especially in our population, atypical symptoms consist of things like delirium, fatigue, anorexia and, in our staff, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and things like loss of taste and smell, things that we weren’t expecting for and certainly weren’t looking for,” Collins said.
Long-term care homes also had to deal with some doctors refusing to enter the facilities, while other homes shut out physicians due to lack of personal protective equipment and fear of spreading the virus, Collins said.
The homes had insufficient personal protective equipment because it was being redirected to hospitals, the inquiry heard.
There was also a paucity of direction from various medical bodies to the long-term care sector, the inquiry heard.
While the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Ontario Medical Association provided guidance to family doctors, none was given to long-term care physicians, Collins said.
Problematic staffing levels in the homes, an issue before the novel coronavirus hit, were exacerbated by the pandemic, she said.
Dr. Fred Mather, the organization’s president and the medical director of Sunnyside Home in Kitchener, Ont., said his facility had success after an outbreak in April by transferring patients to hospitals, which were operating at 60 per cent capacity in the area.
“So they had beds,” he said. “And the one facility where I work, we decanted about 60 residents to four local hospitals, and the capacity was there. Some of it, I think, was a bit too late, but once we co-ordinated our efforts, it did work well.”
Marrocco asked what the doctors would suggest long-term care homes do should hospitals be overrun in the second wave but long-term care residents need to be moved.
Mather said there is some capacity in so-called “blessed units” that are used for short-term stays that are relatively empty due to the pandemic, but Collins said more co-ordination is needed quickly to figure out options for the sector.
10:55 a.m. Carnival Cruise Line said Monday it was cancelling its remaining cruises scheduled for November out of two Florida ports, as well as five cruises from Australia at the beginning of next year.
The cruise line had previously announced it was cancelling for the rest of the year all U.S. cruises except for trips out of Port Canaveral and Port Miami following an extension of a no-sail order until Oct. 31 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But Monday’s announcement nixed trips in November on the six ships operating out of the two Florida ports.
Cruises are still planned for December out of the two Florida ports.
“Carnival continues to work on protocols and procedures that would allow for the resumption of cruise operations, with a gradual, phased-in approach, designating Miami and Port Canaveral as the first two homeports for embarkations,” the cruise line said in a statement.
The cruise line said it was notifying guests that five cruises on Carnival Splendor out of Sydney, Australia next January and February have been cancelled.
Guests can either get credit or a full refund.
10:23 a.m. Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday swore in a new prime minister and Cabinet, tasking the new government to manage the country through an economic and health crisis as it faces a growing wave of coronavirus infections.
The king appointed Bisher al-Khasawneh as the new prime minister after his predecessor, Omar Razzaz, resigned last week. Al-Khasawneh has held a number of Cabinet posts in the past and served as an adviser to the king.
Abdullah frequently shakes up his government, appointing a new prime minister and Cabinet every year or two. Although no major policy changes are expected, the government shuffle appears to be aimed at assuring the public that he is responsive during difficult times.
The new Cabinet consists of 31 ministers, but more than half of them have served in previous Cabinets as well. One of them, Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi, kept his job.
Jordan has suffered in recent years, with its economy burdened by an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring Syria and Iraq as well as domestic challenges such as high unemployment, poverty and corruption.
After a strict lockdown appeared to bring the coronavirus crisis under control, the rate of infections has skyrocketed since the economy was reopened.
The previous government was criticized for its handling of the pandemic. There was widespread public anger over a lack of freedom and right of expression after authorities imposed a state of emergency and lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic.
In his letter designating Khaswneh as prime minister, Abdullah said the formation of this government comes at an “exceptional time” and called on the new government to improve the healthcare system as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
Al-Khasawneh vowed in a letter to the king to “address the coronavirus epidemic by balancing the citizens’ health and sustainability of work and production and reducing the consequences on the national economy.”
Jordan has 24,926 confirmed virus cases, including 181 fatalities.
Al-Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections Nov. 10.
10:08 a.m. Authorities in the Austrian region of Tyrol acted too slowly to shut down ski resorts after it became clear they were dealing with one of Europe’s first coronavirus outbreaks in March, but not due to political or business pressure, an independent commission reported Monday.
There were “serious miscalculations” in the early days of the outbreak in Ischgl, a popular resort in western Austria, and the surrounding area in what is considered one of Europe’s earliest “super-spreader” events of the pandemic, said Ronald Rohrer, chairman of the independent commission formed to examine the outbreak response.
A group of skiers from Iceland who had been in Ischgl began reporting symptoms on March 3, more than a week before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, Rohrer told reporters in Innsbruck. By March 5, Tyrol authorities were aware and started looking for possible contacts. On March 7, an Ischgl bartender tested positive for the virus.
The bar was shut down on March 9, and then the next day all apres-ski locations were closed, and authorities reacted “appropriately” to the outbreak as more people tested positive, Rohrer said.
But the decision was only made March 12 to shut down the rest of the ski season in Ischgl, too late “from an epidemiological point of view,” and provincial governor Guenther Platter only ordered it two days after that, Rohrer said.
“They reacted too late,” Rohrer said.
In addition, he criticized poor communications — both from federal officials and locally — after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on March 13 announced that several areas would be put under quarantine, but didn’t explain that foreign tourists and others would be allowed to leave.
“That created a panicked reaction from guests and workers,” he said. “Some of the guests jumped into their cars with their ski boots still on, and rental skis were thrown into the entranceways of shops.”
Rohrer stressed that his report wasn’t meant to pass judgment, but rather so that Austria would “learn from the mistakes of the past for the future.”
Last month, an Austrian consumer protection group filed four civil lawsuits against the country’s government for failing to contain the coronavirus outbreak at the ski resort.
The cases — involving an Austrian and three Germans — are meant to test the ground for a class action on behalf of 1,000 people who fell ill with COVID-19 following a trip to Ischgl in February and March.
10:02 a.m. French Prime Minister Jean Castex refused to rule out further local lockdowns in France Monday, after French health authorities reported about 43,000 new infections over the weekend. The path of the virus is accelerating rapidly across the country and the situation in hospitals is deteriorating by the day.
“Nothing should be ruled out when we see the situation in our hospitals… There can be no more slackening,” Castex said on French news broadcaster France Info.
Nine big cities, including Paris and Marseille, have now been placed under maximum virus alert as officials warn France is amid the much-feared second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.
“A national lockdown must be avoided by all means,” Castex warned, calling on French people to help out by limiting private gatherings in their homes.
The government will review health data this Wednesday at the weekly defence council meeting to see if further action is warranted following the tightening of screws in several metropolitan areas. President Emmanuel Macron will speak to the nation following that.
It comes as the director of the Paris region public health agency has raised the alarm about the dwindling amount of ICU space available because of the spike in serious infections.
“This morning we have 474 sick people in ICUs, that means we have reached over 42% of beds occupied (by COVID-19 patients),” Aurelien Rousseau told BFM TV.
Rousseau said that the rate of positive tests reached 17% in the Paris region.
France is one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, with at least 32,730 virus-related deaths.
9:18 a.m. Chinese health authorities will test all 9 million people in the eastern city of Qingdao for the coronavirus this week after nine cases linked to a hospital were found, the government announced Monday.
The announcement broke a two-month streak with no virus transmissions reported within China, though China has a practice of not reporting asymptomatic cases. The ruling Communist Party has lifted most curbs on travel and business but still monitors travellers and visitors to public buildings for signs of infection.
Authorities were investigating the source of the infections in eight patients at Qingdao’s Municipal Chest Hospital and one family member, the National Health Commission said.
“The whole city will be tested within five days,” it said on its social media account.
China, where the pandemic emerged in December, has reported 4,634 deaths and 85,578 cases, plus nine suspected cases that have yet to be confirmed.
The last reported virus transmissions within China were four patients found on Aug. 15 in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the Xinjiang region. All the cases reported since then were in travellers from outside the mainland.
The ruling party lifted measures in April that cut off most access to cities with a total of some 60 million people including Wuhan in central China.
Qingdao is a busy port with the headquarters of companies including Haier, a major appliance maker, and the Tsingtao brewery. The government gave no indication whether the latest cases had contacts with travel or trade.
Travellers arriving from abroad in China still are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— India has reported 66,732 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the country’s overall tally to 7.1 million. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 816 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 109,150. India is seeing fewer new daily cases of the virus since mid-September when daily infections touched a record high of 97,894 cases. It’s averaging more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month. Health experts have warned that congregations during major festivals later this month and in November have the potential to spread the virus. They also caution that coming winter months are expected to aggravate respiratory ailments.
— Malaysia will restrict movements in its biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, neighbouring Selangor state and the administrative capital of Putrajaya starting Wednesday to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says all schools in these areas will be shut and all religious, sports and social activities will be halted for two weeks. He says economic activities can continue but with strict health measures. The move comes just over four months after Malaysia lifted a three-month nationwide lockdown to control the pandemic. It has experienced a new wave of cases following increased travel for an election last month in eastern Sabah state, a hotspot on Borneo island. Several politicians, including a Cabinet minister, tested positive for the virus after returning from Sabah. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had to isolate himself for two weeks after coming into contact with the minister. The government earlier announced that Sabah will be placed under a restricted movement order from Tuesday. Ismail said inter-district travel is banned under the partial lockdown, except with approval. Other restrictions include a limit of two people leaving each household to purchase groceries. Malaysia has reported more than 16,000 cases with 157 deaths.
— Authorities in Indonesia’s capital have moved to ease strict social restrictions despite a steady increase in cases nationwide. Jakarta imposed large-scale social restrictions from April to June, then eased them gradually. The city brought back strict restrictions last month as the virus spread. Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan said his administration decided to ease the restrictions from Monday because the increase in infections has stabilized. The move came days after President Joko Widodo urged local administrations to refrain from imposing lockdown measures that could cause crippling economic damage in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
— Sri Lankan officials say they have suspended the repatriation of citizens stranded overseas by the coronavirus because the country’s quarantine facilities are full. Army Commander Shavendra Silva, who heads the task force to control the virus, says a steep rise in COVID-19 patients in the past week has filled the quarantine facilities. Sri Lanka earlier announced it had successfully contained the virus, with no local infections reported for two months. But a cluster originating in a garment factory earlier this month has resulted in 1,307 new cases in just one week. The country has reported a total of 4,791 cases, including 13 deaths.
— South Korea has confirmed 97 new cases of the coronavirus, a modest uptick from the daily levels reported last week. The increase comes as officials ease social distancing restrictions after concluding that transmissions have slowed following a resurgence in mid-August. The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the number of infections since the pandemic began to 24,703, including 433 deaths. South Korea relaxed its social distancing guidelines beginning Monday, allowing high-risk businesses like nightclubs and karaoke bars to open as long as they employ preventive measures. Spectators will also be allowed at professional sports events, although teams will initially be allowed to only sell 30% of the seats in stadiums.
8:34 a.m. A leader of protests against new coronavirus restrictions in several New York neighbourhoods has been arrested on charges of inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment for allegedly instigating an assault on a journalist, police said.
The New York City Police Department said Heshy Tischler was taken into custody Sunday evening in connection with the Oct. 7 assault on Jacob Kornbluh, a reporter for Jewish Insider.
Tischler, a City Council candidate and a self-described activist in the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn, said Friday on social media that he had agreed to turn himself into police this week. He has since been charged after allegedly instigating the attack on Kornbluh, who is also an Orthodox Jew and has angered some in the community for his reporting on anti-lockdown protests.
Several dozen men gathered outside Kornbluh’s apartment late Sunday to protest Tischler’s arrest.
It wasn’t clear if Tischler had an attorney to represent him.
Large protests erupted in Borough Park last week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in areas where coronavirus infection rates have increased.
The majority of the areas facing lockdowns are home to large Orthodox Jewish populations, and religious leaders have complained of being singled out. The spike in cases coincided with the back-to-back Jewish holidays in late September.
Cuomo said Sunday that the so-called cluster areas contain 2.8% of the state’s population, yet have had 17.6% of all positive confirmed cases reported this past week.
The Democratic governor urged people living in those areas to abide by the restrictions even though the new rules ban large gatherings in synagogues.
“Under the Hebrew teachings, participation in a religious ceremony can be excused for matter of health and life and safety,” Cuomo said Sunday. “Leviticus, love your neighbours, yourself, and the point here is to save a life and not to endanger others, not to endanger others in the same congregation, not to endanger others in the same community, and that’s what is happening with these large congregations.”
8:22 a.m. Global shares mostly rose on Monday as investors weighed the prospects of more U.S. economic stimulus and rising coronavirus cases across the world.
U.S. shares were set for a steady outset to the week, with Dow futures rising 0.1% and S&P 500 futures up nearly 0.6%.
France’s CAC 40 rose 0.8% to 4,985, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.6% at 13,126. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.1% to 6,024 after European Union officials say they finally are seeing progress in trade talks with the United Kingdom.
Chinese shares led advances in Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 2.2% to 24,649.68, while the Shanghai Composite added 2.6% to 3,358.46.
But elsewhere, investors growing wary over upcoming earnings reports have been cashing in recent gains, helping pull Japanese shares lower. Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3% to finish at 23,558.69. Big exporters logged some of the largest losses, with Toyota Motor Corp. falling 0.8% and Honda Motor Co. shedding 1.8%.
Other Asian benchmarks rose. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,403.73. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 6,132.00. Shares also rose in Taiwan, India and Southeast Asia.
Market sentiment improved last week as negotiations continued in Washington on delivering more aid to the ailing U.S. economy. Signs as of late Sunday were not promising, however. A new White House coronavirus aid proposal got bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum.
On Friday the White House increased its offer to $1.8 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion, according to a Republican aide familiar with the plan. Pelosi’s most recent public proposal was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.
Worries persist that Congress and the White House won’t deliver more support for the economy as it reels from the impact of the pandemic and concerns that stock prices simply got too high during the summer.
Other major challenges remain, chief among them the still-spreading coronavirus pandemic, highlighted by President Donald Trump’s own COVID-19 diagnosis.
In energy trading, US. benchmark crude lost 59 cents to $40.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 59 cents to $40.60 per barrel on Friday.
Brent crude, the international standard, fell 56 cents to $42.29 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar fell to 105.44 Japanese yen from 105.53 yen last Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1802, from $1.1824.
7:13 a.m. Authorities in Belgium, one of the European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, are warning that the number of cases is rising at a “quite alarming” rate and that 10,000 people could be catching the virus each day by the end of the week.
Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis centre, says that “all the indicators continue to rise, it must be said, in a quite alarming way, in all provinces and all age groups.”
An average of 4,145 new cases of the disease were being recorded every day in Belgium in the week of Oct. 2-8, an increase of 89% over the previous week, according to new data released Monday. More than 6,500 new cases were reported last Wednesday alone.
Van Laethem said that “if this rise continues at the same rate, we could see 10,000 new cases a day at the end of this week.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 162,200 people have been infected with the virus in Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million people. As of Monday, 10,191 people were reported to have died from the disease.
Last week, the government tightened its coronavirus restrictions. Close contacts are limited to a maximum of three people outside of a household. In the capital, Brussels, which is seeing more than 800 new cases each day, bars and cafes were ordered to close for at least a month.
6:56 a.m. For the second day in a row, Iran has announced its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus with 272 people killed.
The announcement Monday by Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari saw Iran also announced its single-day highest count of new cases with 4,206 new patients.
Iran has been struggling with the coronavirus since announcing its first cases in February.
6:21 a.m. The British government is set to announce new restrictions Monday on business and socializing in major northern England cities with high infection rates. But pubs, restaurants and other businesses are pushing back, arguing that they are not to blame for a resurgent outbreak.
Local authorities in hard-hit cities including Liverpool and Manchester are seeking financial support for businesses that are ordered to close, and details of an exit strategy from local lockdowns.
After falling in the summer, coronavirus cases are on the rise in the U.K. as winter approaches. Under the new measures, areas of England will be placed in “tiers,” classing them as at medium, high or very high risk, and placed under restrictions of varying severity.
Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram said his city was to be placed in the highest category.
“We were told we were going into Tier 3 — no ifs, no buts,” he said.
Rotheram, mayor of the greater Liverpool region in northwest England, said local officials have not yet agreed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government what the exact restrictions will be.
Businesses including gyms and pubs are expected to be shut, but restaurants are lobbying to be allowed to remain open. Rotheram said cities also wanted to know what the exit strategy would be from the measures, which are set to be reviewed after a month.
He said local authorities want “some surety from national government that if we hit some of the milestones we can come out of Tier 3 very quickly.”
Liverpool has one of the country’s highest levels of infection, with more than 600 cases per 100,000 people.
Bar and restaurant owners have questioned whether they are major sources of transmission, and say the government has not shared the evidence to back up the claim.
Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese said data from the city’s public health officials “seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of COVID.”
But Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said “most of the outbreaks are happening within and between households and then after that, it’s in the retail and hospitality sector.”
“Alcohol and people’s behaviour are well known to be factors that result in relaxation of one’s adherence to regulations, let’s put it politely,” Semple told the BBC. “And so I can understand why this move is happening.”
The government has announced a support package to pay two-thirds of the salaries of employees of companies that are told to close, but many in the pub and restaurant sector say that is not enough to save already struggling businesses.
England is already under national restrictions including a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on more than six people gathering. Some areas have tougher measures, such as a ban on households mixing. The rest of the U.K. is under similar, and sometimes tougher, restrictions. In Scotland’s two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, pubs have been closed for 16 days to suppress the outbreak.
Without even more action, there are fears that U.K. hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks at a time of year when they are already at their busiest with flu and other winter illnesses. The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with an official death toll of 42,825.
4:01 a.m. Canadians who have missed work because of COVID-19 can start applying for new financial supports from the federal government today.
The new benefits come into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars and fitness centres to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Applications for the new Canada Recovery Benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency.
A new caregiver benefit also comes into effect today, after numerous calls since the start of the pandemic for added support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent due to COVID-19.
Women have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings because of the pandemic because they have largely shouldered the burden of child care and home schooling.
The caregiver benefit applies to people who miss work because of school or daycare closures, and whose children who miss school or daycare because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed.
It also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members who need specialized care that is unavailable to them due to COVID-19.
The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit.
The government is also creating a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks to people who can’t work because they contracted COVID-19 or must self-isolate because of the virus.
The multibillion-dollar suite of new benefits take affect following an acrimonious political battle in Parliament that ultimately saw all parties vote in favour of them, but not before the airing of widespread concern that the Liberal government was rushing them through.
10:00 p.m. Sunday: A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Western University’s London Hall residence after four people tested positive for the virus, the Middlesex-London Health Unit says.
“Declaring an outbreak is an important step in addressing any further spread of COVID-19 within the Western student community,” Dr. Alex Summers, Associate Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said in a statement.
The individuals have been advised to self-isolate and the university has said it will be delivering meals and ensuring that students are “well supported.”
Close contacts have been moved to a quarantine location and the health unit will be following up for testing measures.
Click here for more COVID-19 coverage from Sunday.