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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world March 14

Some of the latest developments:

  • N.L. and P.E.I. announced their first cases on Saturday.
  • Saskatchewan confirmed its first two presumptive cases.
  • B.C. detected nine new cases, bringing the total to 73.
  • U.S. to expand travel ban to include U.K. and Ireland as of Monday night.
  • Spain to restrict movement of people and close shops after seeing 1,500 new cases.
  • Saudi Arabia halts all international flights to the kingdom for two weeks.
  • Denmark is closing its borders to travellers until April 13.
  • Second Cup no longer accepting cash at its coffee shops.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada and TV distributors make 24-hour news channels widely available.

Countries around the world on Saturday continued to close borders, impose strict entry and quarantine requirements and restrict large gatherings in efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus has infected more than 145,000 people worldwide and more than 5,400 have died.

The Canadian government says any citizen who’s abroad should get back home while it’s still possible. That’s a step up from previous advice, which urged travellers outside the country to think about coming home.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne warned on Twitter that commercial travel options might not remain available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as some countries have already taken measures such as stopping or sharply limiting air traffic.

Previously, the government had advised Canadians to avoid all international travel. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, cautioned that people who do travel abroad could get caught up in a quarantine or travel bans imposed by the countries they visit.

Tam, who has reiterated throughout the outbreak the importance of protective measures like proper hand hygiene and staying home while sick, said Friday that people in Canada should take extra steps to stay safe, including measures like social distancing.

“This means avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings, considering shopping or taking public transport in off-peak hours and greeting one another with a wave or elbow instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.”

cda coronavirus assessment centre 20200313
Medical staff participate in a training session as they prepare for the opening of the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Park Arena in Ottawa, during a media tour on Friday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The government also announced that it would limit the number of Canadian airports that will receive international inbound flights as a way for health officials to keep on top of screening and tracking travellers.

Transport Canada’s Amy Butcher told CBC News on Saturday the agency is still hammering out details with airports and industry members, and that the list of airports that will remain open is expected to be released this week — but perhaps not this weekend. 

Back in Canada, Ontario announced an increase in coronavirus cases Saturday to 103, including two in Ottawa, while B.C. announced nine more cases. Both P.E.I. and Newfoundland announced their first cases on Saturday (Newfoundland’s is presumptive), while Alberta announced 10 more confirmed cases, bringing their total to 39. Quebec Premier François Legault announced a health emergency decree in the province, and asked all people aged 70 and over to avoid leaving their homes.

There have been no cases discovered in any of Canada’s territories, while Nova Scotia is the only province without any presumptive or confirmed cases.

Children in four Canadian provinces, including Ontario, will be out of school for an extended period as health officials and governments across the country strive to slow the spread of a pandemic that has sparked states of emergency in the U.S. and Spain.

WATCH | Trudeau warns against leaving the country:

Speaking from self-isolation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures to combat COVID-19, warning against international travel. 2:27

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members.”

The prime minister’s remarks came ahead of a slew of announcements from his cabinet ministers, who offered details around what Canada will do on everything from international airline travel to a $10-billion credit facility for businesses dealing with the fallout from the virus and economic uncertainty.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus in a matter of weeks.

Here’s how Canadian provinces and territories are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak

For full detail about what’s happening in every province — including those that do not yet have cases — visit your local site.

Ontario, which has reported the most cases in Canada to date, reported an increase of 24 confirmed cases on Saturday, bringing the provincial total to 103. One of those confirmed cases is a health-care worker in London who has no recent travel history. The province announced on Thursday that schools would be closed for two weeks in addition to the scheduled spring break, while the deputy premier and minister of Health issued a joint statement asking residents not to panic-buy food. “Ontarians can be confident that our food supply is robust and that our distribution system will continue to operate and remain responsive to the needs of Ontarians,” they wrote. “Rest assured, we have plenty of food that will continue to reach grocery stores on a regular basis.” At the same time, there were moves to set up temporary, stand-alone screening centres for COVID-19, like this one in Ottawa. Early on Saturday, hundreds descended on another testing site in the city, though most were turned away as they didn’t meet the criteria to be swabbed for signs of the virus. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

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People leave a COVID-19 assessment centre on Saturday in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Nine new cases have been detected in B.C., bringing the province’s total to 73. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Saturday that most of those cases are related to an outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where four residents and 12 staff were infected. “This is not a surprise. When we first recognized the outbreak, it had just been starting,” Henry said. She said to expect more related cases in the coming days. Officials have asked people who travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days, and the province has directed organizers to cancel events of more than 250 people. B.C.’s major universities have switched to online classes for the term, and B.C.’s Supreme Court cancelled all jury selection until the end of May. Read more about what’s happening in B.C. here.

cda coronavirus 20200314
A worker sweeps the ground outside the entrance to the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors facility in North Vancouver on Saturday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

In Alberta, 10 new cases raised the province’s total to 39, with two of them currently in intensive care. Earlier in the day, the premier announced a change to the labour code that would allow people who need to self-isolate or care for someone else who is isolated to do that for two weeks without losing their jobs. The University of Alberta announced it is moving classes and exams online. Alberta’s chief medical officer said on Saturday they had discovered 10 more cases, bringing the total to 39. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta here.

Quebec’s premier announced Saturday the launch of a health emergency decree, giving more power to the province’s health minister. That will allow some health-care consultations to happen over the phone, while the minister will also reach out to recently retired health-care workers to ask for help. The premier asked those 70 and older to stay home, while visits to retirement homes will be forbidden. Schools — from daycares right up through to college and university — will also close for two weeks, while hospitals in Montreal restricted visitors — and in some cases, banned them entirely. The province confirmed seven more cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 24. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec here. 

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A COVID-19 information sign is shown in a shopping mall in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Manitoba confirmed its fourth case on Saturday and announced that its students would also be out of school for an extra two weeks. No new cases were announced Saturday, and all four confirmed cases are believed to have been contracted through travel. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba here.

P.E.I. had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Saturday, a woman who recently returned from a cruise and is currently in self-isolation at home.  The province has put up signs on its Confederation Bridge and at Charlottetown Airport directing all international travellers to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I. here. 

The Northwest Territories’ chief public health officer said that the territory started planning for a pandemic weeks ago, basing strategy on lessons learned from the 2009 spread of H1N1. As the territory’s health systems can be overburdened in the best of times, there are plans for “alternative sites” for care, such as school gyms, community halls and “isolation tents.” Read more about what’s happening in the N.W.T. here.

On Saturday afternoon, health officials in Saskatchewan confirmed their first two presumptive cases. The government had previously ordered events of 250 people or more to be cancelled. “This does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces,” a statement from the government said. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan here.

New Brunswick announced its second presumptive case on Saturday to go along with its sole confirmed case, which was announced on Wednesday. The province has also moved to close schools for two weeks, with an exemption for daycares.  “I want to be proactive,” Premier Blaine Higgs said. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced its first presumptive case of COVID-19 on Saturday. The province launched a website on Saturday to present COVID-19 information to the public. The province has seen a number of event cancellations, but others have gone forward as planned, like the St. John’s Farmers Market. Read more about what’s happening in Newfoundland and Labrador here. 

There are no confirmed cases in Nova Scotia, though the province has still requested gatherings be limited to no more than 150 people. The Nova Scotia Health Authority has opened a number of COVID-19 testing sites while 20 Halifax firefighters will self-isolate after returning from training in the U.S. Like B.C., the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has suspended jury trials in the province, and both Dalhousie University and Cape Breton University have suspended in-person classes. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia here.

The government of Nunavut has cancelled all non-essential duty travel for its employees and requested that residents avoid both international travel and non-essential travel within Canada. All circuit court has been cancelled, meaning all court in communities outside of Iqaluit will be postponed, while stores have introduced purchase limits to reduce panic buying. There have been no cases of illness in the territory, though the government said in a news release that it has a pandemic plan and health centres have the necessary resources to respond to cases of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Nunavut here.

northmart panic buying restrictions
In an effort to curb panic buying, the North Mart in Iqaluit has put up signs limiting soap, flu treatments and toilet paper purchases to one per household. (Beth Brown/CBC)

Politicians in Yukon sparred over how the territory’s tourism industry would be affected by COVID-19. On Thursday, tourism operators asked for a $2.5-million stimulus package to offset expected losses, while the government came under fire from opposition parties for downplaying the threat posed to Yukon’s economy. There have been no cases found in the territory, but health officials said they are ready. Read more about what’s happening in Yukon here. 

As of Saturday, Canada was reporting at least 250 cases. To date, the death of a resident of a B.C. long-term care facility is the only known death linked to COVID-19 in Canada.

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

On Saturday, the Trump administration expanded a ban on travel from Europe by adding Britain and Ireland to the list, while Georgia became the second state, after Louisiana, to postpone their presidential primaries.

According to a news release on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s website, Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Saturday about the “ongoing close co-ordination” between the two countries as they respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, Trump said he had taken a COVID-19 test, while a later release from his doctor stated that he had tested negative.

WATCH | Trump declares national emergency:

U.S. President Donald Trump declares a national emergency to contain the coronavirus and free up $50 billion to help state and local governments. 2:00

The U.S. now has more than 50 coronavirus deaths. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced the state had recorded its first COVID-19 death, an 82-year-old woman with an underlying health condition who died at a Manhattan hospital.

California also recorded the state’s sixth COVID-19 fatality, an elderly woman in Santa Clara County south of San Francisco. Most deaths, 37 in all, have occurred in Washington state.

Florida has 25 new cases, with six in Miami and nine in Broward County, the Miami Herald reports.

health coronavirus usa
Members of the Colorado Air National Guard test people who suspect they are infected with COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing station in Denver, Colo., on Saturday. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

The U.S. House approved legislation early Saturday to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. Trump on Friday declared the outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight it, then threw his support behind the congressional aid package.

From the Rose Garden, Trump said, “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” unleashing as much as $50 billion US for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.

Trump also announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-thru locations, as Washington tries to subdue the new virus whose spread is roiling markets, shuttering institutions and disrupting the lives of everyday Americans.

But he denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available as his administration has come under criticism for being too slow to respond. Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the slow rollout of testing.

WATCH | How COVID-19 is playing out very differently in Seattle and Vancouver:

How a COVID-19 outbreak is playing out very differently Seattle and Vancouver — two West coast cities, only 200 kilometres apart. 4:18

The crush of late-day activity capped a tumultuous week in Washington as the fast-moving virus left ordinary Americans suddenly navigating self-quarantines, school closures and a changed way of life.

Canadians in the U.S. are making plans to head home, among them Sidney Margles, who is driving home to Montreal early from Deerfield, Fla.

“I think the problem is that there is so much misinformation or lack of information that had us wondering,” he told CBC News Network.

Margles said he worries that Americans would have priority in the U.S. health system if he fell sick south of the border. It’s also difficult to use travel insurance because there’s so much red tape, he added.

A tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University was reporting 2,660 cases in the U.S. late Saturday.

WATCH | Canadian Sidney Margles on heading home from U.S.:

Montrealer Sidney Margles is packing his bags and heading home because he doesn’t want to be stuck in Florida should anything go wrong with his health. 5:52

Here’s what’s happening in business

Canadian coffee retailer Second Cup is suspending the use of its self-serve stations in stores and will no longer be accepting cash. Franchise partners will have the option of temporarily closing their cafés, the company said in a statement.

McDonald’s says it will temporarily close PlayPlaces at restaurants across Canada and postpone Wednesday Family Night activities and has asked its staff to focus on sanitizing surfaces.

Tech giant Apple is closing its stores outside of China for two weeks and will only sell online as part of efforts to fight the global viral pandemic. The measure will be in place until March 27. Workers will continue to be paid and office staff will work remotely if possible, CEO Tim Cook said.

WATCH | How to wash your hands like a surgeon:

Can washing your hands really slow the spread of COVID-19? That depends on how you clean them. 4:16

The Bank of Canada on Friday announced an emergency rate cut from 1.25 to 0.75 per cent. The cut is meant to be a “proactive measure taken in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices,” the bank said in a statement.

Lobster prices are tumbling as the seafood industry deals with a worldwide slowdown in imports because of the virus. The wholesale price for live 1.25-pound lobsters in March is $7.78 US — 18 per cent behind last year and 33 per cent behind March 2018, according to statistics from business publisher Urner Barry.

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 8:00 p.m. ET

Spain’s government said Saturday that Begona Gomez, wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Two ministers of Sanchez’s cabinet, the minister of Equality and the minister of Regional Affairs, had already tested positive earlier this week. 

Spain’s government announced earlier in the day that it was placing tight restrictions on movement and closing restaurants and other establishments in the nation of 46 million people as part of a two-week state of emergency.

Spain has followed Italy’s path in implementing a similar lockdown after both European countries failed to contain the virus in regional hotspots.

Health authorities say the country’s coronavirus cases have reached 5,753 people, of which almost 3,000 are in the capital, Madrid. That represents a national increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours. Spain had recorded almost 200 COVID-19 deaths.

WATCH | Spain declares state of emergency:

Spain’s cabinet meets on Saturday to declare two-week state of emergency as 1,500 new cases are reported. 2:41

Already cooped up most of the day in their homes under Italy’s nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus, millions of Italians woke up on Saturday to find themselves deprived of one of the few simple pleasures left: a walk in the park.

The death toll in Italy rose to 1,441 on Saturday, up from the 1,266 total reported a day earlier, the civil protection authority said. The total number of cases rose to 21,157 from 17,660.

Italy remains the worst affected country in Europe and second only to China. The agency said 1,966 patients had recovered from the disease.

WATCH | Family physician explains how to stop the spread of COVID-19:

A family physician explains how to stop the spread of COVID-19 with preventative measures that protect our ‘personal borders.’ 1:08

France will shut most shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from midnight on Saturday as part of measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said. The country also reported 12 new deaths, bringing the total toll to 91, and the number of infections rose to 4,499.

Denmark is closing all its borders to travellers, starting at midday local time Saturday until April 13, in a bid to tackle the spread of the virus. The country has confirmed 827 cases. 

“I know that the overall list of measures is very extreme and will be seen as very extreme, but I am convinced that it’s worth it,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

Russia says its land borders with Norway will be closed to foreigners beginning Sunday, as will the borders of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave with Poland. Belarus citizens, foreigners with legal residence in Russia and members of official delegations are excepted.

Norway’s prime minister said Saturday it will shut its ports and airports on Monday, with the exception of returning citizens and incoming goods.

Here’s what’s happening in China and South Korea

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

China confirmed 20 new cases on March 14 and 10 deaths, versus 11 new cases and 13 deaths the day before. 

In recent days, numbers of new cases in the country have generally been going down. The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, data released by the National Health Commission showed on Saturday.

The virus has infected 80,844 people in mainland China, the commission said. More than 65,000 have recovered. The total number of confirmed deaths hit 3,199 on Saturday.

virus outbreak south korea
Workers wearing protective gears disinfect surfaces as a precaution against the new coronavirus at the subway station in Seoul on Friday. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

In South Korea, the country’s war against the coronavirus is broadening despite a notable decline in new cases. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun is urging vigilance after the emergence of infection clusters in areas including Seoul and warning of the possibility that the virus re-enters the country from abroad amid widening outbreaks in the West.

Chung’s comments during a government meeting on Saturday came as infections continued to slow in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which has reported daily increases of 60 to 70 cases over the past three days after averaging around 500 new cases per day a week ago.

South Korea reported 76 new cases, bringing its total to 8,162 cases.

WATCH | South Korea praised for handling of COVID-19 outbreak:

South Korea has been comparatively successful containing the spread of COVID-19 despite not instituting a mass-lockdown as in countries such as Italy. Tina Park of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect says the South Korean government’s collaboration with labs to provide access to testing and early diagnosis was a leading factor. 4:57

Here’s a look at some other COVID-19 news from around the world, including hard-hit nations such as Iran and Japan

From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 8:00 p.m. ET

  • Saudi Arabia said Saturday that it would halt all international flights to the kingdom for two weeks in the latest effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. Gulf nations have been scrambling to contain the pandemic, which has spread to more than 100 countries and infected more than 130,000 people. Of special concern is nearby Iran, where one of the worst outbreaks has infected more than 11,000 and killed more than 500.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his country still intends to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo as planned, July 24-Aug. 9. The number of cases in the country has risen to 1,423 as of Saturday, including nearly 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The virus has claimed 28 lives in Japan.

  • Indonesia reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 96 in the Southeast Asian country, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said on Saturday. The total number of deaths from coronavirus rose to five, Yurianto said.

  • Sudan has ordered the closure of schools and universities for one month, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

  • Estonia will stop foreign travellers from entering the country on March 17. The country currently has 115 confirmed cases, with no deaths.

  • Colombia’s president has ordered his nation’s border with Venezuela closed as a coronavirus containment measure.

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