Health officials in Canada said Thursday that more than 90 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths have been people over 60 — but they also highlighted the needs of another vulnerable group, saying the homeless and people with unstable housing situations are at increased risk.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health official, said that shelters that serve the homeless need the resources and support to do proper infection control — and to protect staff and clients. Without immediate action there will be more outbreaks and avoidable deaths in these settings, Tam said on Twitter.
Canada had more than 30,000 confirmed and presumptive cases as of Friday morning. And while health officials have expressed some cautious optimism that public health measures are slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, health officials and politicians are still scrambling in some provinces to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.
Quebec’s premier said on Thursday that about 2,000 specialist doctors had signed up to help provide care to the elderly. But François Legault noted that integrating the physicians into the system will come with challenges.
“It will not necessarily be easy, especially in conditions that are really exceptional. But, I am convinced that with good faith … we will be able to have these people work together.”
Quebec, which has the most recorded cases in Canada, also asked Ottawa for additional help at hard-hit long-term care homes.
WATCH | Quebec’s plea for help in long-term care homes:
Several other provinces — including Ontario, B.C., and Alberta — have reported multiple outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Premiers were to discuss the issue of how to improve staffing with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a call Thursday night. While most cases of COVID-19 (the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China) are mild to moderate, seniors and people with underlying health issues are more at risk of severe disease and death.
As of 10:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 30,670 presumptive and confirmed coronavirus cases. The provinces and territories that provide data on recoveries listed 10,104 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths linked to COVID-19 based on provincial reports, regional public health information and CBC reporting, listed 1,273 deaths in Canada. There have also been two reported coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, an inmate at the federal Mission Institution died after being taken to hospital for complications related to COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in B.C., including the latest on new cases at long-term care facilities and a hospital outbreak.
Alberta reported two more COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday and 162 new cases. The province has now reported 2,158 cases, with 50 deaths. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
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Saskatchewan reported just one new case on Thursday, and health officials said there have been no coronavirus cases in the province’s intensive care beds for several days in a row. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
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In Winnipeg, ER wait times are down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a CBC analysis has found. Dr. Paul Doucet, an ER doctor at St. Boniface Hospital, said he thinks some people are avoiding the hospital because of concern over potential exposure to COVID-19. He also noted that hospital administrators have cancelled elective surgery and clinics, which temporarily creates some capacity in the system. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba, including an analysis of how the provincial government is handling the outbreak.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has introduced new emergency measures requiring retirement home workers to only work at one facility at a time. The provincial government says all care homes must be compliant with the order by April 22. Another emergency measure will allow local health units to more easily reassign frontline staff between long-term care homes, hospitals and other community facilities. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, Montreal’s director of public health said the city appears to be at the peak of the curve in COVID-19 cases. “If we look at the cases today and yesterday, we have attained a plateau,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick on Thursday reported no new cases of COVID-19, keeping the province’s total at 117. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
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Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, keeping the provincial total at 26 cases. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I,, including what the premier had to say about how the easing of restrictions might work.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 252. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including the story of a hotel offering free isolation rooms.
The Northwest Territories isn’t saying who is on its COVID-19 enforcement task force. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North, including the efforts at a micro-manufacturing centre in Inuvik to create items essential workers need.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press and CBC News, updated at 7 a.m. ET
New York, the hardest-hit hot spot in the U.S., reported more encouraging signs on Thursday with a drop in the daily number of deaths statewide and the overall count of people in the hospital.
“We’ve controlled the beast,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Still, Cuomo extended the state’s lockdown through at least May 15. New York City is lining up 11,000 empty hotel rooms to quarantine people living in crowded apartment buildings.
WATCH | Some states extend COVID-19 restrictions, Trump reveals reopening plan:
In New Jersey, police acting on an anonymous tip found at least 18 bodies over two days at a nursing home in Andover.
According to a case tracking tool maintained by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has more than 670,000 recorded coronavirus cases, with more than 33,000 deaths. More than 12,000 of the U.S. deaths have occurred in New York, according to the state health department.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 10:20 a.m. ET
Tokyo had 201 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, setting a new record for a daily rise, bringing the prefectural total to 2,796, with 56 deaths, according to Gov. Yuriko Koike. The Japanese capital has seen its new cases shoot up since late March, raising concerns about the infections becoming explosive.
Friday’s increase in cases comes 10 days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other urban prefectures, a measure he expanded to all of Japan on Thursday.
The city of Wuhan in China, where the novel coronavirus that has since spread around the world was first reported, said it had revised up its total death toll by 50 per cent, addressing incorrect reporting, delays and omissions of cases. That would take China’s total deaths to over 4,500.
The revision comes as U.S. and other officials question the accuracy of China’s tallies — but also as those countries hit hardest by the pandemic have widely varying methodologies for counting their dead. The World Health Organization in Geneva has so far not commented on the Chinese revision.
Germany’s official statistical office said Friday that some 2.6 million students will soon return to schools as the country relaxes its pandemic lockdown rules. Authorities in Germany’s 16 states agreed this week to allow a staggered reopening of schools, with students in their final two years of high school and the final year of primary returning first.
Germany, a country of 83 million people, has so far recorded almost 137,700 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University. Compared to other countries, Germany has had relatively few deaths — 4,052 so far — less than a third the number seen in Britain, which has fewer confirmed cases.
Some 940 of the 2,300-strong crew aboard France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier group have tested positive for COVID-19, the French Senate said in a statement on Friday, citing the military’s chief medical officer.
Spain’s official gazette published Friday a government order for the country’s 17 autonomous regions to unify the criteria on counting the dead in the coronavirus pandemic. The government said that it’s following WHO guidance and insists on counting only those who die having tested positive for the virus, whether they show symptoms or not and no matter where the death takes place.
That figure on Thursday rose above the 19,000 mark, with a total of more than 182,000 infections. But the accounting system leaves out the patients who died with symptoms but were not tested.
The United Kingdom’s hospital death toll from COVID-19 rose 847 to 14,576, as of Thursday afternoon local time, the Health Ministry said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says wearing face coverings, such as bandanas and scarves, could provide people with another layer of protection against the coronavirus and is lobbying the British government to change its advice.
Khan told BBC radio that the evidence he has seen is that wearing a non-medical facial covering “reduces the chances” of those who have the virus giving it to somebody else. However, he did concede that it “doesn’t necessarily limit your chances of catching the virus.”
He said changing the advice would be helpful for those in public transport or in shops, where some people may find it difficult to abide by the physical distancing guidelines of staying two metres apart. Khan said it’s important that there’s a “consistent approach” across the country and that’s why he’s lobbying the government and its advisers.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, said Thursday that the evidence around masks being helpful in preventing the spread of the coronavirus is “weak,” while conceding it was a “live issue.”
Coronavirus outbreaks across the Middle East threaten to shatter the lives of millions of already destitute people in conflict zones, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. Hard-hit Iran, which has like several other countries faced questions about how cases are identified and disclosed, reported a new case total of almost 80,000 on Friday, with 4,958 deaths.
Nigeria’s finance minister said a debt relief agreement reached this week to help the world’s poorest countries deal with the coronavirus pandemic was a welcome first step but that middle-income countries with debt challenges also needed urgent help.
In remarks to be delivered at Friday’s meeting of the World Bank’s Development Committee, Zainab Ahmed said most countries in sub-Saharan Africa were particularly vulnerable to the pandemic because high rates of self-employment meant physical distancing could not be sustained for long.
The African continent, which has some 400 million people living in poverty, also had weak health systems that were grossly inadequate to test for the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus and manage those infected, she said.
Mexico’s president said the country was looking to return to normal beginning June 1, with schools and businesses reopening provided people comply with anti-coronavirus health measures until then. The Mexican government will inject around $2.5 billion US into the economy in May, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday, as the country gears up to weather economic shocks from the coronavirus.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister after clashing with him over how to fight the new coronavirus, and again called for states to end stay-at-home orders.
Bangladesh has reported 15 more deaths and 266 cases of new infections from coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the country’s health minister said Friday. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said with the latest figures, the death toll reached 75 and the number of infections stood at 1,838. Experts say Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, lacks proper management in handling the situation. Bangladesh is enforcing a weeks-long lockdown across the country until April 25 to contain the virus from spreading.