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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 9:35 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says there are plans to remove nearly 250 Canadians from two cruise ships and get them back to Canada. The U.S.

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):


9:35 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says there are plans to remove nearly 250 Canadians from two cruise ships and get them back to Canada.

The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to remain at sea where they may be sequestered "indefinitely" during the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump says Canada is coming to get the Canadians from the MS Zaandam and its sister ship the Rotterdam.

The ships hope to dock in Florida.

Trump made the comments at his daily press briefing.

Global Affairs Canada has said there are 97 Canadian passengers on the Zaandam and 150 Canadians on the Rotterdam.

At this time, no COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among Canadian passengers.


6:30 p.m.

Toronto Public Health says a long-term care home in the city's east end is reporting that six more COVID-19 patients there have died, for a total of eight.

A spokeswoman for the public health agency says the new deaths were reported overnight.

Lenore Bromley says 23 people at Seven Oaks were diagnosed with the virus, including 14 residents and nine staff members.

She says there are another 54 residents who likely have the illness but have not officially been diagnosed.

She says those who died range in age from their 60s to their 90s, and six of them were over the age of 85.


6:15 p.m.

British Columbia's public health officer says the province is holding its own in the fight against COVID-19 as she announced another death and 53 new cases of the disease today.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province still has a few more weeks to go and, when restrictions are lifted, it will have to be done in a way that prevents the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

The province now has 1,066 cases of COVID-19, with 25 deaths.

Henry says 606 people have recovered.


5:50 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 117 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the province to 871.

Premier Jason Kenney also announced two additional deaths for a total of 11.

He says it's been a tough week in Alberta, and things will get worse before they get better.

The province says 142 people have recovered.


5:15 p.m.

Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson says the 2020 Queen's Plate has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The thoroughbred horse race, which was to be run June 27 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America dating back to 1860.

The $1-million race is also the first jewel of Canada's Triple Crown.

The move isn't surprising, as last month Woodbine Entertainment postponed the start of the 2020 racing season.


5:05 p.m.

The association that represents Ontario's hospitals says it is "extremely concerned" that many of the facilities are running low on personal protective equipment.

The Ontario Hospital Association says today that as the number of COVID-19 cases in acute care units rise, many hospitals are experiencing a shortage, especially of masks.

The association is calling on the federal and provincial governments to clearly communicate when new supplies will be provided to specific hospitals.


4:45 p.m.

RCMP in Nova Scotia say four people have been charged under the Health Protection Act in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police say two people were charged for failing to self-quarantine after returning from abroad, and two others were charged for not maintaining a social distance of two metres.

Police say all four were fined $697.50.

They did not say where in the province these charges were laid.


4:30 p.m.

BC Hydro is giving residential and small business customers a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier John Horgan says individuals who have lost wages or their jobs will be able to apply for a three-month credit on their residential power bills.

The government says the credit will not have to be repaid, which will save about $477 for the average customer.

Small business owners will also be able to apply for a three month payment holiday on their power bills.


4 p.m.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice says five staff at a Saskatoon jail have tested positive for COVID-19.

A spokesman says there's no reason to believe the virus has spread throughout the facility, but officials are working with public health to confirm.

The provincial government says so far no inmates in Saskatchewan's jails have tested positive for COVID-19.


3:42 p.m.

Saskatchewan says a third resident has died from COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health says a patient in their 80s died from complications related to the virus.

Earlier this week it announced two residents in their 70s also died over the weekend.

So far the Saskatchewan government has announced 193 cases of COVID-19 in the province.


3:04 p.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’s open to extending the government’s wage subsidy program if the COVID-19 crisis lasts longer than expected.

The benefit, which will pay 75 per cent of struggling companies' wages up to $847, is expected to last for three months.

But Morneau says the government will continue to reassess as the crisis unfolds and is open to adding new measures as necessary.


2:57 p.m.

The Ottawa Senators say four additional members of the organization have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to six.

The team announced that the people in question travelled with the team to California before the NHL suspended its season March 12 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The team said in a release that those who tested positive have recovered.

The Senators played the Sharks in San Jose, Calif., on March 7 despite a recommendation from officials in Santa Clara County against holding large public gatherings.


2:30 p.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says wage subsidies for large and small businesses will cost about $71 billion.

The program is expected to offset the cost of emergency benefits for workers, and reduce spending on those benefits to $24 billion.

The wage subsidy will be available to large and small businesses who have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19.

Morneau has encouraged businesses to rehire employees they may have laid off in the wake of COVID-19, and says the wage subsidy will be available in six weeks.


2:15 p.m.

The Manitoba government has announced another 24 probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 127.

The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says officials are seeing early signs of community transmission in Winnipeg, and he is urging people to stay home as much as possible.

The cases include three health care workers and officials are tracking other staff or patients who may have had close contact with those individuals.


1:45 p.m.

There are 11 new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, raising the provincial total to 81.

Chief medical health officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell says of the total, 43 cases involved travel outside of New Brunswick, 22 were close contacts of other positive cases, there were three cases of community transmission, while 13 cases are still under investigation.

There have been no cases of people contracting COVID-19 in New Brunswick health care facilities so far, but Russell says a number of health care workers have contracted the virus outside of their workplace. They are self-isolating.

Russell also confirms the case of a taxi-driver in Fredericton who has tested positive after picking up a passenger who had travelled. Contacts with that driver have been contacted by Public Health.


1:35 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 26 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the provincial total to 173 confirmed cases.

Health officials say of the 26 new cases of COVID-19, one is a staff member at The Magnolia residential care home in Enfield outside Halifax.

That makes three staff members and two residents at the home who have tested positive.

Officials say most cases in Nova Scotia are connected to travel or a known case, while there is one confirmed case of community transmission and more cases are expected.


1:35 p.m.

Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says the government is looking at ways to support self-employed Canadians who keep their jobs but whose hours are reduced because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The federal government has promised wage subsidies for employers to help pay employees who are still on the payroll as well as benefits for Canadians who lose their jobs due to the pandemic.

But Qualtrough acknowledges self-employed Canadians whose hours or earnings are reduced could fall between the cracks, which is something the government is considering.

Qualtrough also appeared to leave the door open to federal compensation for the families of health-care workers who die while helping to fight the pandemic.


1:25 p.m.

The Manitoba government is hoping to get former registered nurses back on the job in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the College of Registered Nurses will be allowed to waive or modify registration requirements for former registered nurses so that they can come back quickly.

Friesen says application and registration fees will be waived for the returning nurses.


1:19 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says the number of COVID-19 cases in the province is now 4,611, an increase of 449 over yesterday.

There were also two new deaths, bringing the provincial total to 33.

Legault says there are 519 seniors' residences with at least one case, which he described as a source of concern for the province.


1:17 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has appealed to the nation’s landlords to not evict tenants who cannot pay their rent today.

The government is planning to provide benefits to people who have lost their income due to COVID-19 but that money has not started to flow yet, leaving many people unable to pay their rent.

Freeland says it would be heartless for landlords to evict tenants during this crisis.

She says for those landlords who need rent money to pay their mortgage, the federal government has worked with banks to try to give homeowners some breathing room.


12:50 p.m.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the health care system has the potential to be overwhelmed in all of the COVID-19 scenarios projected by the federal government.

The government has not shared any of its projections related to how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to play out in Canada.

But Tam says the health system is not designed to deal with this kind of surge, and could be facing difficult decisions about how to allocate scarce resources in all those scenarios.

She says in some of the worst case scenarios, the health care system will not be able to cope.


12:45 p.m.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island Wednesday, with the provincial total remaining at 21.

Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says three of the Island cases are considered recovered.

All the cases on the Island have been the result of international travel.


12:45 p.m.

There are 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, all within the Eastern Health authority.

The total number of known cases of the illness in the province is now 175.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer of health, says 15 people have been hospitalized and three are in intensive care.

She says 10 people have recovered.


12:40 p.m.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says the backlog of employment insurance claims filed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis will be addressed within the week.

Canada has seen an unprecedented surge in requests for support.

In the last two weeks 1.3 million EI claims have been filed, compared to just 2.1 million for all of last year.

Qualtrough says the department has found a way to streamline applications, and starting today they will be able to process 400,000 applications per day.


12:35 p.m.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the government has created a mobile app to provide direct updates on COVID-19.

The app will provide updates on the latest government measures and public health advice to limit the spread of the virus.

It will also include a self-assessment tool for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.


12:10 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is expecting a shipment of much needed medical supplies in a few days, or even sooner.

Several provinces have reported shortages of personal protective equipment for front line workers, given that the equipment is in demand all over the world.

Trudeau says the government is working with international partners to try to bring more surgical masks and in-demand supplies to Canada.


11:40 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's asked the government house leader to reach out to opposition parties about bringing back parliament.

He says the entire government needs to be involved in the largest economic program in Canada's history.

Canada's parliament was suspended on March 13 to limit the spread of the virus and allow the cabinet to focus on the COVID-19 response.

It briefly reconvened last week to pass the government's emergency COVID-19 response bill.


10:35 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 426 new COVID-19 cases today — the largest number so far — including four new deaths.

It represents a nearly 22 per cent increase and brings the provincial total to 2,392.

That includes 37 deaths and 689 cases that have been resolved.


9:45 a.m.

Some Manitoba health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, leading to other health workers having to self-isolate.

One staff member at a hospital in Selkirk tested positive after travelling within Canada, and had been working while symptomatic between March 19 and 23.

The Manitoba Nurses Union says a nurse at a hospital emergency room in Winnipeg has also tested positive.

And St. Boniface Hospital has sent a letter to workers that says a staff member in the echocardiography department has tested positive, and was working while symptomatic on March 25.


8:10 a.m.

A hospital in Burlington, Ont., is building a temporary COVID-19 unit in anticipation of a surge of patients.

Joseph Brant Hospital says the structure being built on hospital grounds will have 93 beds.

The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Ian Preyra, says the pandemic response unit will allow the hospital to keep its critical care and high acuity beds for the sickest patients.


7:30 a.m.

A driver in Ottawa's transit system is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

The city says the driver developed symptoms on March 20 and was tested for the virus that causes the illness the next day.

The local health unit says there's concern the driver might have spread the virus in the days before feeling sick.  

The city says it's deep-cleaning the busses that the person drove, which mostly ran between downtown Ottawa and western suburbs.


7:25 a.m.

A ship carrying passengers sick with COVID-19 is expected to arrive in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.

About 250 Canadians are among the passengers aboard Holland America's Zaandam, which was denied entry by several countries after reporting four deaths and dozens of infections.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the state's health care resources are already stretched too thin to take on the ships' coronavirus caseload.

But President Donald Trump said people are dying on the ship, and he's going to do “the right thing” for humanity and allow it to dock in Florida.


6:35 a.m.

It's April 1st and rent payments are due for millions of Canadians for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic led to an economic shutdown and many layoffs.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have signed petitions, asking for the outright cancellation of rents and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests that's not going to happen, but says the banks have been asked to give people a break if they need it.

Multiple provinces have placed an outright ban on evictions, while others have placed an effective ban by closing down landlord and tenant boards.

Applications for federal support payments and details about wage subsidies that are meant to help Canadians weather the storm are still to be released.


The Canadian Press

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