The decision-making body of the World Health Organization has begun holding two days of video conference talks, the first since the coronavirus pandemic began in China late last year, and Canada is among several countries urging that Taiwan be given observer status.
A letter to the World Health Assembly signed by diplomats from Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Japan and the United States says its exclusion of Taiwan has created a serious public health concern during the COVID-19 crisis.
The letter to WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus points to Taiwan’s early success at controlling the pandemic, echoing a report released last week by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an agency of the U.S. Congress. That report also said Taiwan’s continued exclusion from the WHO is “jeopardizing global health” and that Beijing ignored Taiwan’s early requests for information about the pandemic.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and wants the world to heed its “one-China policy.” Beijing has blocked Taiwan from attending the meeting since the 2016 election of independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
WATCH | Push for inquiry ‘significant’ amid U.S.-China friction:
Tedros on Monday said he will begin an independent evaluation of the UN health agency’s response to the pandemic “at the earliest appropriate moment,” making the pledge after an independent oversight advisory body of the WHO published its first interim report about the response from January to April.
The 11-page report raises questions such as whether WHO’s warning system for alerting the world to outbreaks is adequate, and suggested member states might need to “reassess” WHO’s role in providing travel advice to countries.
More than 100 countries at the World Health Assembly, including Canada, have backed a resolution drafted by the European Union that calls for an “independent and comprehensive” investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and the WHO’s responses to the virus that first emerged in China late last year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told the conference his country would support such a review, saying it should be conducted in an “objective and impartial manner.”
Tragedy marks Operation Inspiration
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Sunday night expressing condolences following the crash of a Snowbirds jet that was part of Operation Inspiration, a series of flyovers across the country to salute Canadians and front-line workers during the pandemic.
“For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times,” Trudeau said.
“Every day, they represent the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication. Their flyovers across the country put a smile on the faces of Canadians everywhere and make us proud.”
WATCH | Capt. Jennifer Casey dies in Snowbirds jet crash:
The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, survived Sunday’s crash. But public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey was killed when the plane went down shortly after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C.
The Defence Department said the flyovers have been suspended until further notice.
Trudeau is on a two-day break from his daily briefings on the pandemic, but will resume the updates on Tuesday. He will speak with the Queen on Monday, as well as participate in a roundtable over the phone with small business operators from his Papineau riding in Montreal to discuss the impacts of COVID-19, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Statistical milestone with recoveries
The number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has increased over this holiday weekend, but there appear to be some positive signs. The number of new daily cases has averaged less than 1,200 for the past week, a rate not seen since early April.
In addition, more than half of all known cases of COVID-19 in the country had either been recovered or resolved as of Sunday, according to a tally by CBC News.
As of 6 p.m. ET Monday, Canada has had a total of 78,072 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 39,251 of those considered recovered, according to a CBC News tally. That’s based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting. The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Canada is 5,935. There are two known fatalities of Canadians abroad.
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 1,319,987 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w\ an average ~5.4% positive overall. In recent weeks, an average of 26-28,000 people are tested daily (w\ ~4% +ve) as <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/publichealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#publichealth</a> continues to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TestandTrace?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TestandTrace</a>.
As Canada reached the statistical milestone on Sunday regarding recoveries, provinces were preparing to ease more restrictions in the coming week.
Ontario will enter its first stage of reopening on May 19 by lifting restrictions on certain retailers and the construction industry. Some surgeries will also resume.
As part of the province’s reopening plans, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures in place.
WATCH | New rules, precautions as retailers reopen:
Pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments can also begin again in Stage 1. The Ontario government is expected to announce on Tuesday when schools and child-care centres might be able to reopen.
British Columbia’s government will also allow a partial reopening of the province’s economy starting Tuesday. However, the reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. While many provincial parks in B.C. are now open for day use, officials are still discouraging unnecessary travel.
In New Brunswick, licensed daycares can begin reopening Tuesday. And while children will not have to wear masks, they will be separated into small groups as a safety precaution.
Meanwhile, Alberta welcomed the arrival of the Victoria Day weekend by increasing the limit for outdoor gatherings to 50 people — up from 15 — as long as members of different households stay two metres apart.
While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe illness or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories:
Newfoundland and Labrador marked its 11th straight day without new cases on Monday. There are still eight active cases remaining in the province, as 249 people have recovered from the virus. Active cases are the total cases minus recovered cases and deaths. Read more about what’s happeneing in N.L.
Nova Scotia on Monday reported three new cases of COVID-19 and eight more recoveries. There are now 1,043 confirmed cases, 946 recoveries and 42 active cases.
The province is entering the second phase of reopening, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang announced late last week. The province is introducing an immediate-family bubble, which would let two households come together without physical distancing. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
There are 2 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in NS with active cases. Northwood in Halifax has 25 residents and nine staff active cases. One other facility has one resident with an active case.
New Brunswick is not reporting any new cases for a 12th consecutive day on Monday.
The province is in the so-called orange phase of its recovery plan aimed at reopening businesses and activities while working to prevent a resurgence of transmission. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick.
In Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. National Park will remain closed to visitors through the remainder of the Victoria Day weekend, but many businesses and services are preparing to reopen on May 22. The province has had no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 19 days. Read more about what’s happening to get life in P.E.I. back to normal.
Physical distancing is still very important.<br>Up to 5 visitors inside, 10 outside – <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayApart?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StayApart</a> <br>No buffets or pot-luck group meals. No sharing food, plates, cutlery.<br>Reconsider visits with anyone at higher risk of severe illness<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RenewPEITogether?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RenewPEITogether</a><a href=”https://t.co/sQ2DZhbwPK”>https://t.co/sQ2DZhbwPK</a> <a href=”https://t.co/CbFHkSeoV5″>pic.twitter.com/CbFHkSeoV5</a>
Quebec Premier François Legault said Monday that retail stores in the Montreal area will reopen on May 25 and daycares around the city will open one week later on June 1. Legault said the decision was taken after receiving encouraging numbers about the COVID-19 situation in Montreal. The 34 new deaths announced Monday is the lowest that figure has been in more than a month.
Meanwhile, travel restrictions are being lifted today in parts of the province. While gatherings are still banned, police checkpoints in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions, as well as in Charlevoix and Charlevoix-Est MRCs, have been removed. Travel between Gatineau and Ottawa is also now allowed. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
Ontario reported 304 more cases on Monday. That’s down from 340 new cases added to the tally on Sunday. In total, the province has had a total of 22,957 cases and 17,638 recoveries. There have been 1,970 deaths related to the virus.
In Hamilton, Ont., a retirement home has been emptied of its staff and residents after 49 residents and 13 staff members tested positive, and one resident died.
Fifty-two people at the 64-bed Rosslyn Retirement Residence have been transported to hospital, according to a statement issued Saturday by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Dr. Ninh Tran, associate medical officer of health for the city, said two other residents found places to stay with family or friends. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Manitoba, St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief Marie Wood says she’s worried the approaching summer wildfire season will be complicated by the pandemic. Nearly 1,100 people from the northern community were moved to hotels in Brandon and Winnipeg during 2017 due to wildfires, and Wood says those hotels can be breeding grounds for the virus now.
The province confirmed a new case on Monday after not reporting any for six straight days. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Saskatchewan, businesses like hair salons, massage parlours and retail stores are scheduled to reopen their doors on Tuesday as the province moves into Phase 2 of its multi-phase plan to reopen businesses and services shut down during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Regina Public Library laid off 100 workers — more than half its workforce. Libraries have been closed since March 16 because of the pandemic. Now, only about 80 library workers still have their jobs. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
WATCH | Some good news from around the world on Monday:
In Alberta, an air-ambulance service based in Medicine Hat that services southern Alberta says it might have to scale back or cease operations, saying the pandemic has decimated its ability to fundraise and it relies on donations and fee-for-service payments from the province to stay in the air.
“The issue now is between COVID-19 and lack of provincial investment. We just don’t have the reserves to weather this particular crisis,” said CEO Paul Carolan. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 while on medical travel in the South. Read more about what’s happening across the North, including Yukon’s announcement that it will also begin to ease restrictions.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
As of 6 p.m. ET on Monday, there were more than 4.7 million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, according to a database tracking system maintained by the coronavirus resource centre at Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.5 million cases are in the United States.
According to the tracking system, COVID-19 has killed roughly 317,000 people globally.
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