Ontario to release COVID-19 projections as Canada scrambles to deal with mounting public health crisis

The latest: 

As global reported coronavirus case numbers pass one million — including more than 11,700 known cases in Canada — governments are scrambling to deal with both a mounting public health crisis and growing joblessness.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the country’s premiers on Thursday about a range of issues, including the shortage of protective gear for health-care workers.

Speaking outside Rideau Cottage on Friday, Trudeau said his government is “confident” Canada will receive the necessary equipment. He said the government would do everything it can to ensure no part of Canada goes without the supplies it needs during the pandemic.

The prime minister said the government has signed a deal with Amazon Canada to use its distribution network to send medical supplies to meet provincial needs.

Faced with rising case numbers and tighter restrictions, there have been some calls for more information from governments about what is expected and what information is driving decisions.

Trudeau has said that such national modelling is coming “soon,” but that the federal government requires more data from provincial and territorial governments — a subject he discussed with premiers during his more than two-hour first ministers’ conference call.

WATCH | Federal government under pressure to release coronavirus projections: 

As Canadians wonder how bad the COVID-19 outbreak will get, some say the federal government should share more detailed data modelling with the public. 2:00

Ontario Premier Doug Ford intends to release his provincial projection and modelling information Friday, saying that he wants people in Ontario to know “what I know.”

“No beating around the bush, no holding back figures,” he said Thursday, adding that the data provided would be hard for some people to hear. 

Speaking ahead of the release of the Ontario figures — which will be made by a team of experts — Trudeau said again that “how we get through this depends on you,” and that Canadians are “looking to do the right thing.” Trudeau has reiterated daily the need to practise physical distancing, stay at home whenever possible and practise proper hand hygiene.

The prime minister also announced $100 million on Friday to meet the “urgent” needs of food banks, and said that an increase in the Canada child benefit that was scheduled for May will be sent out a month earlier. 

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the situation is evolving daily but that the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world Friday.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

As of 10:45 a.m. ET Friday, Canada had 11,747 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 166 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 2,171 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil. 

Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case. 

In British Columbia, six more people have died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 31 in the province. On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said one of the new cases reported was an inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Alberta has declared coronavirus outbreaks at nine seniors’ facilities. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said there are now 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases in continuing-care facilities “and I expect that more will be confirmed in the coming days.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says six more health workers have contracted COVID-19. “We are aware of at least six instances where individuals may have been working in a health-care setting but it’s not clear where the exposure was,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, including a call from health-care workers for more transparency from the provincial government.

In Manitoba, unions representing Health Sciences Centre workers say about 70 staff members — including doctors, nurses, clerks and security guards  — are self-isolating after COVID-19 exposures. Read more about what’s happening at the Winnipeg health facility and across Manitoba.

WATCH | COVID-19: Are we doing a 180 on whether masks are beneficial?

Doctors answer your questions about the coronavirus, including whether or not the advice on masks has changed. 3:03

Ontario plans to release what the premier called “stark” modelling projections about coronavirus in the province, which on Friday reported 462 new cases. The province now has a total of 3,255 cases, of which 1,023 are listed as resolved. The province’s case tally puts the COVID-19 death toll at 67. But based on our own reporting and after gathering data from local public health units, CBC News has counted 81 deaths in the province.

The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, noted that the projections are forecasts that will give people a sense of what to prepare for. “If people see what might be possible, could be possible and what we might achieve through our ongoing energy and efforts of public health measures, physical distancing, it means we need to stay at the task and do our part to flatten the curve and impact that and change the projection as best we can.” Read more about what Ontario officials are expected to say.

Quebec’s premier said health-care workers who are in contact with COVID-19 cases will get an increase in pay. “I don’t think there is a group that has ever been more deserving of a pay raise,” said Premier François Legault, who also announced a smaller raise for health workers not in direct contact with the virus, as well as a raise for workers in long-term care facilities. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec, and get the details of the planned pay hikes.

Health officials in New Brunswick are worried about a potential shortage of COVID-19 test suppliesPremier Blaine Higgs told CBC’s Power & Politics if the province “ramped up a bit we could be within like a week of running out of test supplies.” Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia on Thursday extended its state of emergency for another two weeks. The province also announced help for small businesses and a temporary program to help workers who don’t qualify for employment insurance. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island has announced a $1-million fund to help people not covered by other support programs announced since the COVID-19 crisis began. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I, and get the latest update from Premier Dennis King.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s health minister is urging people to prepare for an increase in cases. “We are, from experience of our other jurisdictions, not yet into our likely surge period. This is likely to come over coming weeks, and we are working hard to understand when that might be,” John Haggie said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Northwest Territories health officials have reported two travel-related COVID-19 cases, including one in a small community. The latest cases bring the territory’s case count up to four. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

From The Associated Press, updated at 6:30 a.m. ET

With more than 245,000 people infected with COVID-19 and the death toll topping 6,000, sobering preparations are underway in the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags because of the possibility funeral homes will be overwhelmed, the military said.

White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said U.S. infection data suggests Americans need to emulate those European nations that have started to see the spread of the virus slowing through strict physical distancing.

The Trump administration was formalizing new guidance to recommend Americans wear coverings such as non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas over their mouths and noses when out in public and preserve medical masks for those on the front lines.

But there are still shortages of critical equipment, including masks, in Europe and the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of breathing machines in six days. He complained that states are competing against each other for protective gear and breathing machines, or are being outbid by the federal government.

Medical workers wait for patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, which has seen an upsurge of coronavirus patients in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in hopes of boosting production of medical-grade masks by Minnesota-based 3M to assist first responders. Washington is also trying to crack down on a growing black market for protective medical supplies.

In a sign of the outbreak’s impact on the U.S. military, the captain of a navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the virus was fired by navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly says the ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit Italy, Spain and parts of Europe

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

Europe’s three worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain and France — surpassed 30,000 dead, or over half of the global toll.

Spain is closing Friday a black week, with its death toll for the new coronavirus nearing 11,000. More than half of those occurred during the past seven days. There are also more infections than any other country in Europe.

The bottleneck in Spanish labs conducting the tests has led to relatively low levels of testing in Spain compared to other European countries, authorities have acknowledged.

Medical personnel are seen as they work at a temporary hospital inside IFEMA conference centre, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Madrid. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

But even with statistics that are believed to be conservative in showing the extent of the epidemic, Spain on Friday neared 118,000 cases, second only to the United States. Official Health Ministry data showed that 7,472 of those infections had been in the past 24 hours. Spain also registered 932 new deaths, 18 less than its daily record of 950 the day before.

Italy, with more than 115,000 reported cases as of Friday morning, has seen new infections levelling off after three weeks of the West’s first nationwide shutdown.

The head of Germany’s disease control agency says the number of people who die of COVID-19 is likely being undercounted. Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute said Friday that he believes “we have more dead than are officially being reported.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wieler was suggesting that deaths are being undercounted only in Germany, or worldwide, and reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions during his online news conference. Germany’s low death rate from coronavirus has drawn international attention. Experts say the difference compared to other countries is partly due to mass testing and well-equipped hospitals, but they caution that the number of deaths is likely to rise.

The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 684 to 3,605 as of Thursday afternoon, up 23 per cent from the previous day. A total of 173,784 people have been tested, with 38,168 testing positive as of Friday morning. A new hospital was opened in London on Friday, erected to provide thousands of extra beds for patients with the coronavirus and built in just nine days. The Nightingale Hospital, which will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, will eventually be able to treat about 4,000 patients. It has been set up in the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.

A drive-thru farm shop has been opened at Tulley’s Farm in Turners Hill, England, where contact-less payment is taken on the end of a pole to observe physical distancing on Friday. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With help from the military, it is the first of six new temporary hospitals to be set up across the country to cope with the outbreak, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow in Scotland. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter Friday he was remaining in isolation with mild symptoms of the coronavirus, including a high temperature. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II will give an address about the coronavirus on Sunday at 8 p.m.

The French prime minister said he is “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive. At least 570 people have died in nursing homes in France’s eastern region, suggesting the national death toll could be far higher than thought.

Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive, the country’s first such facility hit since the outbreak. Police in Greece say they have issued 17,358 fines for people breaking the new restrictions on leaving home since a lockdown began on March 23.

The Netherlands is not in a full lockdown, but bars, restaurants, museums, schools and universities are closed and the government is urging people to stay home and practise social distancing.  Amsterdam is banning boats from its central canals beginning Sunday as authorities fear warm spring weather will lead to overcrowding on the famed waterways. The country’s public health institute on Friday reported 148 new deaths in the outbreak, bringing the Dutch death toll to 1,487.

Here’s a look at China, South Korea and some other areas of concern around the world

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

The South Korean capital of Seoul says it will ask more than 8,500 theatregoers to self-monitor at home after Canadian and American cast members of The Phantom of the Opera were found to have the coronavirus.

Seoul City official Na Baek-ju said Friday the musical’s international tour was halted following the positive test of an unidentified Canadian actress, who began experiencing throat pain and dry coughs days after she began performing at the city’s Blue Square theatre on March 14. She last appeared on stage on Monday, a day before her test.

Officials have since tested 138 of her contacts, including colleagues and guests at the downtown Somerset Palace hotel, and confirmed the infection of an American actor on Thursday. Na said officials were still awaiting test results for 48 people while the other 89 tested negative. He said the hotel was ordered to prevent guests from leaving the property and stop taking new customers.

South Korea earlier on Friday reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 10,062.

WATCH | Debunking COVID-19 myths about lemons, masks and holding your breath:

China on Friday reported 31 new confirmed virus cases, 29 of them from overseas, and four new deaths. China now has recorded a total of 81,620 cases and 3,322 deaths, although those figures are generally considered too low because of a lack of testing and a reluctance to report the scale of the original outbreak.

More than 3,000 health-care workers contracted COVID-19 and the government says 14 died of the disease. Among them was Dr. Li Wenliang, who was threatened with punishment by police after publicizing news of the outbreak but has since been listed among the national “martyrs.” His family was issued a “solemn apology” and two police officers were issued “disciplinary punishments” for their handling of the matter.

Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month as it moves to curb the increase of COVID-19 transmissions in the country. Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed from next Tuesday, and schools will be closed from Wednesday. Essential services such as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banking services will remain open.

People queue Wednesday to get a free refill of hand sanitizer at a mall amid the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

“Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee urged residents to stay home and only leave to buy essential items.

The country has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and has routinely reported more than 50 new cases daily. As of Thursday, Singapore had 1,049 cases and five deaths. Singapore has also reversed its recommendations that people should wear masks only if they are feeling unwell.

“We will no longer discourage people from masks. Wearing a mask may help to protect others in case you have the virus but don’t know it,” said Lee, adding that the government will distribute reusable masks to all households as of Sunday.

Indonesia’s coronavirus death toll rose to 170, passing South Korea as the country with the highest number of recorded fatalities in Asia after China.

More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have closed their land, air and sea borders, while fears rise that the coronavirus-related restrictions are delaying access to critical aid. Humanitarian organizations are now in the extraordinary situation of negotiating humanitarian corridors in peaceful regions. And in Kenya, travel restrictions have delayed the delivery of pesticides needed to fight the most devastating locust outbreak some East African countries have seen in 70 years. A World Food Program official says lockdowns and other restrictions “may affect us very, very much” on a continent where millions of poor people must now stay at home.

Jeffrey Tucker adds items to a basket he lowered from his window as a sign of social solidarity with poor and homeless people in need amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday. The sign asks anyone who can to leave something, and says those in need can take something. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as officials battle to contain the country’s biggest cluster of infections in New Delhi.

The Middle East has confirmed over 85,000 cases of the virus and over 3,700 deaths, most of them in Iran. Iran state TV reported Friday the virus killed another 134 people, pushing the country’s death toll to nearly 3,300 amid more than 53,000 confirmed cases. Iran’s parliament speaker is among those who have contracted the disease.

Pakistan, with 2,450 confirmed cases and 35 deaths, has been sharply criticized for moving too slow to curb large gatherings, including a gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims from several Islamic countries in March. The gathering of Tableeghi Jamaat missionaries is blamed for several outbreaks of the new virus elsewhere in the world. The first confirmed cases that emerged in Gaza were traced to the gathering.

A man wearing a face mask to protect himself against coronavirus walks past people queuing for shopping in Duduza, east of Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

Turkey is preparing to treat COVID-19 patients with blood donated from people who have survived the disease. Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent organization, late Thursday called on “heroes who have come out victorious from the ‘Corona War”‘ to donate blood for the treatment, which uses plasma from people who have recovered to help seriously ill patients. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry sent a circular to the country’s 81 provinces setting out guidelines for the volunteer blood plasma donations, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Australian officials closed internal borders on Friday and warned people to stay home over the upcoming Easter holiday as the country seeks to capitalize on a further fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases.

WATCH | How Canadian cities are enforcing physical distancing:

As more jurisdictions in the country adopt new rules against gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Canadian law enforcement is tasked with enforcing them. 1:52

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