9:36 a.m. A second German district is to go into a de-facto lockdown
8:07 a.m. Authorities warn Belgium faces a pivotal week in its struggle to limit the spread
5:39 a.m.: Ford is expected to announce whether Ontario will impose stricter restrictions on Halton and Durham
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.
9:45 a.m. President Donald Trump plans to intensify an already breakneck travel schedule in the final full week of the presidential campaign, overlooking a surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and a fresh outbreak in his own White House.
Trump is expected to hit nearly a dozen states in his last-ditch effort to recover ground from Democrat Joe Biden, including Sunday’s trip to Maine and Tuesday’s to Nebraska. Both states award electoral votes by congressional district and could be crucial in a tight election. Trump will hold 11 rallies in the final 48 hours alone.
Biden is staying close to his Wilmington, Delaware, home on Monday. But he plans to pick up his travel schedule later in the week, aiming to hit the six battleground states the campaign sees as key to his chances, some with socially distanced in-person events and others with virtual events. On Tuesday, the former vice-president is travelling to Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than a quarter-century but where polls show a tight race.
The final week of the campaign is colliding with deepening concerns about a public health crisis in the U.S. Trump is eager for voters to focus on almost anything else, worried that he will lose if the election becomes a referendum on his handling of the pandemic. Biden is working to ensure the race is just that, hitting Trump on the virus and presenting himself as a safer, more stable alternative.
9:36 a.m. A second German district is to go into a de-facto lockdown as new coronavirus infections surge in the country and across Europe.
News agency dpa reported that local authorities in Bavaria’s Rottal-Inn county, on the border with Austria, said Monday that the restrictions will begin at midnight. Rottal-Inn follows Berchtesgaden, another Bavarian county in Germany’s southeastern corner, which introduced similar restrictions last week.
Schools and kindergartens will be closed and events cancelled, and people told not to leave their homes without good reason.
Rottal-Inn has recorded well over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days. In Germany, districts are required to take measures once new infections top the 50 mark, and many have done so in recent weeks — imposing measures such as early bar closures and requirements to wear masks outdoors in some public places.
Germany’s new infections have been increasing by sometimes record numbers over the past two weeks, though they are still considerably short of the numbers seen in many other European countries
9:05 a.m. Researchers have identified the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a Canadian dog — but it doesn’t mean pet owners should panic.
The dog belongs to a Niagara Region household where four out of six members tested positive for the coronavirus. The family’s canine companion had no symptoms and a low viral load, suggesting that dogs remain at relatively low risk of becoming gravely ill or passing on COVID to others, experts said.
Scott Weese, a veterinary internal medicine specialist and director of the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, is part of the team that identified the Niagara case. While the discovery is interesting from a research point of view, he said it doesn’t change existing advice: If pet owners are self-isolating, they should do their best to limit their pets’ contact with others, too.
Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh
9 a.m. A player and a member of the medical staff at Belgian soccer club Anderlecht have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The club says the unnamed people have both been placed in self-isolation. Residents in Belgium who test positive for the virus are asked to quarantine for seven days.
Anderlecht is the most successful club in Belgium with 34 league titles.
Several Anderlecht players had already tested positive for the virus in September. More than 10,500 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Belgium.
8:40 a.m. AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and winger Jens Petter Hauge have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the team’s Serie A match against Roma.
Milan says three staff members are also positive for COVID-19.
The team says all five individuals are asymptomatic and “they have immediately entered isolation in their homes and the relevant local health authorities have been informed.”
Milan leads the Italian league with four wins from four matches.
8:30 a.m. Thomas Hartle is a 52-year-old IT technician from Saskatoon who doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and never dabbled in drugs before trying medicinal cannabis. As part of his profession, the soft-spoken, detail-oriented father of two typically spends much of his time planning and researching.
But these days his preparations have taken a devastating turn — planning for his family’s future as he awaits his imminent death.
Hartle was diagnosed in April 2016 with stage-four colon cancer. It went into remission, but last year he learned it was back, had spread and will ultimately kill him. What followed were crippling panic attacks triggered by worries for his family and the uncertainty of not knowing which day could be his last.
“What caused the anxiety for me was the fact my cancer is completely invisible to every test they do. So I literally have no idea the extent or severity of my cancer right now … and neither do the doctors.”
Read the full story from the Star’s Omar Mosleh
8:15 a.m. Like the recessions before it, this year’s pandemic-induced economic downturn has had its winners and losers.
Shoppers Drug Mart is one of the winners. Its parent company, Loblaw Companies Ltd., saw profits rise during the first quarter of 2020 despite the added costs of pandemic safety measures, with Shoppers’ same-store sales rising more than 10 per cent. And though Loblaw’s profit dipped in the second quarter due to those extra costs, its revenue increased. At Shoppers, though pharmacy same-store sales fell, front store sales rose.
The pharmacy chain recently got into the COVID-19 testing game alongside Rexall and other community pharmacies, the latest in a long line of moves by the company aimed at expanding its profile in health care.
Read the full story from the Star’s Rosa Saba
8:11 a.m. After Ontario reported its second consecutive record day for new COVID-19 infections Sunday, experts are pointing to the week ahead as a “crucial” measuring stick for the province’s second wave.
Ontario reported 1,042 new cases Sunday. The province’s seven-day average for new infections — a better indicator of the overall trend than single-day numbers, experts say — also hit a new all-time high, now up to an average of 857 cases daily.
The totals suggest the second wave is “getting worse, not better” in Ontario, said University Health Network infectious-disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, adding there are other areas that are getting “hotter,” including Halton, where new restrictions “are needed without delay.”
Read the full story from the Star’s Ed Tubb
8:07 a.m. Authorities warned Monday that Belgium faces a pivotal week in its struggle to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as a series of new restrictions took effect in one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Almost 12,500 new cases are being reported on average every 24 hours, figures released Monday for the week from Oct. 16-22 showed, compared to around 5,000 a day two weeks ago. About one person in every five who is tested turns out to be positive. The very elderly are hardest hit.
On average over the last week, 42 people died from the virus each day, bringing the death toll to 10,810 in a country with a population of around 11.5 million people.
Pressure is building on Belgium’s hospitals, where 467 people are being admitted on average each day, a rise of 85 per cent. Almost 5,000 people are currently in hospitals, more than 750 of them in intensive care, according to the latest data.
“What we do now, what we will do in the next two weeks, will be decisive,” said Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis centre. If the figures don’t change, he said, “we are likely to reach 2,000 patients in intensive care in two weeks. That is, our maximum capacity.”
New measures announced by Belgium’s federal government were implemented Monday, but the tightening of restrictions until Nov. 19, mainly in the cultural and sports sectors, were considered inadequate by two of Belgium’s three regions.
7:45 a.m. With a bit of rejiggering, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump played host Sunday to hundreds of superheroes, unicorns, skeletons and even a miniature version of themselves as part of a Halloween celebration at the White House.
In years past, the president and first lady personally handed out candy to the costume-clad kids. This year, the treats were provided separately as participants walked along a path on the South Lawn.
The kids still briefly met the president and first lady, who waved and offered words of encouragement from a safe distance about how much they liked the costumes. Trump and the first lady have both recently recovered from COVID-19.
Trump was particularly pleased with a young boy with a distinctly Trump head of hair and a partner who did her best Mrs. Trump impersonation. The president motioned for them to turn and pose for the cameras, and they happily agreed.
Another tot, a true princess it appeared, was so smitten with the cameras that she kept waving at them as she walked along, never noticing the VIPs behind her.
The spooky celebration was changed up a bit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Guests older than 2 were required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The same went for all White House personnel working the event, while any staff giving out candy also wore gloves.
7:39 a.m. British authorities are likely to tighten restrictions on more areas of the country this week, amid mixed signs about whether recent measures have stemmed a steep rise in coronavirus infections.
Government scientific advisers say there are some signs the increase has begun to level off since a three-tier virus risk system of restrictions came into effect, but that it’s too soon to be certain.
A large chunk of northern England, including the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, has been placed in the top tier of “very high” risk, with pubs closed and people from different households barred from mixing.
The regional disparities are causing friction between local politicians in the north and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which has been accused of not doing enough to support people and businesses hit by the local lockdowns.
The government says it is talking to local leaders in other areas, including the city of Warrington in northwest England and the central England county of Nottinghamshire, about moving into the highest tier.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have established their own public health rules, with Wales introducing the strictest measure: a 17-day lockdown for all its 3 million people.
Britain has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths.
7:30 a.m. Voters in two Toronto ridings head to the polls today in the first electoral test of the federal Liberal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both ridings — Toronto Centre and York Centre — are longtime Liberal strongholds and are widely expected to remain that way after the byelections.
But political strategists will be watching carefully to see what impact, if any, the government’s handling of the pandemic has on the ruling party’s share of the vote.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals captured more than 50 per cent of the vote in both ridings during last fall’s general election, even as their support slumped nationwide, leaving them with just a minority of seats in the House of Commons.
The Liberals are running well-known broadcaster Marci Ien in Toronto Centre, which was left vacant by former finance minister Bill Morneau’s abrupt resignation in August amid reports of tensions between him and Trudeau over massive spending on pandemic relief.
Businesswoman Ya’ara Saks is running for the Liberals in York Centre, left vacant last month by Michael Levitt’s resignation to become CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
The NDP has placed a distant second in recent contests in the riding but that dynamic could be affected this time by the presence of the Green party’s newly minted leader, Annamie Paul.
Paul ran in Toronto Centre last fall as well, winning just seven per cent of the vote, but she’s hoping her higher profile as leader will boost her standing this time. She had called on Trudeau to cancel the byelections as the second wave of COVID-19 began sweeping across the country.
6:34 a.m.: As coronavirus infections reached new heights in Iran this month, overwhelming its hospitals and driving up its death toll, the country’s health minister gave a rare speech criticizing his own government’s refusal to enforce basic health measures.
“We asked for fines to be collected from anyone who doesn’t wear a mask,” Saeed Namaki said last week, referring to the government’s new mandate for Tehran, the capital. “But go and find out how many people were fined. We said close roads, and yet how many did they close?”
Namaki’s speech, lamenting the country’s “great suffering” and “hospitals full of patients,” clearly laid the blame for the virus’ resurgence at the government’s door — a stark contrast to the usual speeches from officials who point the finger at the public’s defiance of restrictions.
But one day later, the minister had a vastly different message.
“We should not cause panic for people in vain,” Namaki said in a speech carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency. “We should never announce that we don’t have empty (hospital) beds. We do have empty beds.”
6:31 a.m.: A deeply torn Senate is set to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, but Democratic leaders are asking Vice-President Mike Pence to stay away from presiding over Monday’s session due to potential health risks after his aides tested positive for COVID-19.
Barrett’s confirmation is not in doubt, as Senate Republicans are overpowering Democratic opposition to secure President Donald Trump’s nominee the week before Election Day. Pence has not said if he plans to attend as is customary for landmark votes.
But Democrats said in a letter to Pence on it’s “not a risk worth taking,” according to copy obtained by The Associated Press.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote that not only would Pence’s presence violate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, “it also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”
Under the Constitution, the vice-president serves as the largely ceremonial role of Senate president and can break a tie vote. Pence’s vote isn’t expected to be needed. Senate Republicans control the chamber and steered their majority to seize the opportunity to install a third Trump justice, securing a conservative court majority for the foreseeable future.
“Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential,” the Democrats wrote. They warned of the risk not just to senators but the police, restaurant workers and others who keep the Capitol running.
The 48-year-old appellate judge’s rise opens up a potential new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. A case against the Obama-era health law is scheduled to be heard November 10.
5:43 a.m.: Opposition parties are poised to approve a parliamentary probe of the Trudeau government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic despite growing objections from industry and experts.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Canada is the latest to express concerns about the probe, which is the subject of a Conservative motion that will be voted on in the House of Commons today.
The motion would order the government to turn over to the Commons health committee all records on a raft of issues related to the government’s handling of the pandemic.
That includes the purchase of personal protective equipment, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and in a letter to Health Canada, Pfizer says it wants to know how its commercial secrets will be protected.
The motion is expected to pass with support from the NDP and Bloc Québécois, who insist there is sufficient protection for industry while accusing the Liberals of stirring fears.
Unlike a similar Conservative motion defeated last week that would have created a committee to look into the WE controversy, the government has said the health committee motion will not be a confidence vote.
Monday 5:39 a.m.: Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce today whether Ontario will impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions on two Toronto-area regions.
Ford said Friday that the experts would look at the caseload in Halton and Durham regions over the weekend to determine whether they need to roll back to a modified Stage 2 of the province’s pandemic recovery plan.
Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York regions have all seen the restrictions reimposed over the last several weeks as cases of the novel coronavirus soar within their borders.
But politicians in Halton urged the province not to lump them in with neighbouring Peel Region, saying there aren’t as many COVID-19 cases in the area as elsewhere in the province.
Read Sunday’s coronavirus news