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PE.I.’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said that the province has no active cases of COVID-19, as all 27 of its confirmed cases have resolved. At the same time, the province relaxed some of its restrictions, allowing households to gather indoors with up to five other people, and outdoors with up to 10.
As provinces move forward with phased approaches to lifting restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, premiers are facing decisions around whether to stick with a single framework provincewide or introduce regional or local variation.
“We are in such a fortunate position here in P.E.I.,” she said, adding there is no evidence of active COVID-19 infection on the Island.
- North America’s largest single coronavirus outbreak started at this Alberta meat-packing plant: Take a look inside.
Premier Doug Ford has said that Ontario will be proceeding with a provincewide approach. In Ontario, major urban centres have reported the highest infection rates: Toronto reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the city prepares to reopen certain businesses this weekend and early next week.
The number of new cases in Canada’s largest city represents a small dip following a week of more than 200 new cases announced daily.
When asked recently about a request from the city of Kingston and the local public health unit for a more regional approach to lifting restrictions — with continued cross-jurisdiction collaboration — Ford said the answer had been no.
“We have to run the province as one unit.”
Quebec, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak in Canada, is moving forward with an approach that offers one timeline for the greater Montreal area and another for the rest of the province. On Thursday, the province said the planned reopening of retail shops, daycares and primary schools in Montreal was being delayed until May 25.
Premier Francois Legault said “the conditions to keep our initial reopening calendar in Montreal are not met, for the moment.”
Quebec, which has reported 36,150 COVID-19 cases and 2,725 deaths, accounts for more than half of the confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.
Also Friday, New Brunswick moved to Phase 2 of its recovery plan, allowing some businesses to reopen and outdoor gatherings to occur.
Still, not all provinces are moving ahead with quick reopening. On Friday, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said the loosening of restrictions in the province will “be done very slowly and carefully over the weeks and months ahead.
“There are other parts of the world, even other parts of Canada, who are going faster than we are, and we will learn from them. Maybe we will learn a lesson that we could actually go a little faster, but they may actually learn a lesson from us about being slow and steady.”
At that same briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil also announced that schools in the province won’t be reopening to students this year. Instead, at-home learning will continue until June 5, the school year’s end.
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, there were a total of 66,434 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 30,239 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC tally of coronavirus deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting, listed 4,678 deaths in Canada and another two deaths of Canadians abroad.
The virus, which first emerged in China and spread around the world, sparked governments to introduce a range of measures, including lockdowns, business closures and stay-at-home orders, to try and slow its spread.
Canada loses nearly 2 million jobs
The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 devastated the economy and forced businesses to shutter temporarily. The loss of 1,993,800 jobs comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March.
Canada’s national unemployment rate was 13 per cent in April. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the job losses on Friday, saying the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended beyond June to help businesses as provinces begin to reopen.
The plan helps eligible businesses and organizations cover salaries, offering a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of employee wages.
“To businesses hit by COVID-19, know this: the wage subsidy will continue to be there for you to help you keep your employees on the payroll.”
Speaking at a news conference later Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland acknowledged that the job losses were at historic levels and “are and should be profoundly worrying for all Canadians.”
Freeland said Canadians understood that physical distancing and shutting things down was an essential part of the response to COVID-19
“The good news is, as a result of following that advice we are making real progress in beating the virus.”
Freeland said the same “sensible, prudent, smart approach” is needed in the reopening process.
The job numbers show the sacrifices Canadians have made to reach this point, and the task now is to build on the progress made against the virus as the economy is restarted, she said.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
What’s happening in the provinces and territories
The number of people in British Columbia hospitalized due to COVID-19 has dropped to 73, including 20 patients in intensive care units, officials announced Friday. To date, 127 people have died from the virus in the province. Of those who have tested positive, 1,579 people have recovered. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about expanding social interactions:
Alberta reported its first case at a jail or prison facility Friday. The inmate at the Calgary Remand Centre was admitted without symptoms, but became ill the next evening. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said inmates are now in isolation and the facility has implemented outbreak processes. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan reported 13 more cases on Friday — all of them in the far north and north regions. Nineteen people are hospitalized as of Friday, a jump of seven over the day before. Four of them are in intensive care. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
WATCH | COVID-19 expected to cause surge in bankruptcy applications:
Manitoba reported one new COVID-19 case on Friday, connected with an outbreak at the office of a trucking business. The total number of people infected with the illness connected with Paul’s Hauling in Brandon is now eight, health officials announced Friday during their daily COVID-19 briefing.
The new case brings the total number of cases identified in Manitoba to 284. Of those cases, 30 are considered active. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Ontario, the province’s top doctor says that community spread is responsible for more than half of the province’s new cases, which he says is confusing given the weeks of stringent physical distancing measures in place. “It is still perplexing to me that we’re not making major headway going down,” Dr. David Williams said in a news conference Friday afternoon. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where officials reported 477 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 19,598.
WATCH | Why Ontario isn’t yet letting residents expand their COVID-19 social bubbles:
Quebec is behind on reaching the testing goal the province’s public health director announced last week. Dr. Horacio Arruda had said he hoped to reach a total of 14,000 tests per day in the province. As of Friday, however, the province had only managed to reach 10,000.
Arruda also stressed the importance of following up with government health officials. He said several people who have tested positive have been ignoring phone calls from regional health boards and have refused to isolate themselves or to monitor their symptoms. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs took the province to Phase 2 of its recovery plan on Friday, which allows some elective surgeries to take place, as well as outdoor gatherings of ten people or less. Some businesses — including restaurants — were also allowed to reopen under strict conditions. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
WATCH | Shortage of COVID-19 test kits limits testing capacity:
Students in Nova Scotia won’t be returning to the classroom this year, Premier Stephen McNeil said Friday. At-home learning will continue until June 5, when the province’s school year will end. “That means your kitchen is a classroom for a little bit longer,” McNeil said during a COVID-19 news briefing on Friday.
The province reported two more deaths related to COVID-19 Friday, bringing the provincial total to 46. Health officials say the deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, which has recorded 40 deaths as a result of an outbreak at the facility. Read more about what’s happening in N.S., where the CEO of the health authority says fully reopening the health system could take months.
P.E.I.’s chief public health officer reported that all 27 of the province’s confirmed COVID-19 cases are considered recovered. “We are in such a fortunate position here in P.E.I.,” Dr. Heather Morrison said Friday, before describing how the government is loosening restrictions.
Households in the province can now gather indoors with up to five other people, although Morrison asked Islanders to consider keeping a log of anyone they come into contact with, to help with contact tracing should they get sick. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I,
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday, leaving the total number of recorded cases in the province at 261. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
There were no new cases reported Thursday in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters, updated at 7:15 p.m. ET
A five-year-old boy has died in New York from a rare inflammatory syndrome believed to be linked to the coronavirus, highlighting a potential new risk for children in the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.
Cuomo told a daily briefing that the boy died in New York City on Thursday and that health officials were looking at other deaths involving children under similar circumstances to see if there is a link to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Cases of rare, life-threatening inflammatory illnesses in children associated with exposure to the coronavirus were first reported in Britain, Italy and Spain, but doctors in the U.S. are starting to report clusters of kids with the disorder, which can attack multiple organs, impair heart function and weaken heart arteries.
WATCH | Rare inflammatory illness in children may be linked to COVID-19:
The U.S. economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the novel coronavirus pandemic is battering the world’s biggest economy.
The U.S. Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7 per cent last month, shattering the post-Second World War record of 10.8 per cent reached in November 1982.
A White House official predicted Friday that the unemployment rate for May will be even worse. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN he expects the jobless rate will move up to 20 per cent this month. He said the economy should transition to stronger footing in the summer.
The economic crisis spells trouble for President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in the White House in November’s election. After the Trump administration was criticized for its initial reaction to the pandemic, Trump is eager to reopen the economy, despite a continued rise in COVID-19 infections and dire projections of deaths.
“Our economy is on life support now,” said Erica Groshen, a former commissioner of the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and now a senior extension faculty member at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
“We will be testing the waters in the next few months to see if it can emerge safely from our policy-induced coma.”
Meanwhile, the White House has halted talks with Congress over any further coronavirus stimulus package as it waits for more information about how state reopenings will affect the economy, White House top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Friday.
The Senate and House of Representatives have already passed four major bills to address the coronavirus outbreak. Democrats, who control the House, are pushing for a vote as soon as next week on another massive relief bill that would include more money for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and the U.S. Postal Service.
Kudlow said that formal talks with Congress have paused for May.
The White House on Friday was also forced to defend measures it has taken to protect Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence after another staffer tested positive for COVID-19. The new case, Pence’s press secretary and the wife of one of Trump’s senior advisers, came a day after news that Trump’s personal valet had tested positive.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6 p.m. ET
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 3.9 million people and killed over 270,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University based on official data. But limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments undoubtedly mean the true scale of the pandemic is much greater.
South Korea’s top infectious disease expert says the country could possibly push back plans to reopen schools if coronavirus infections surge again over the weekend after a weeks-long decline.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made the comments on Friday while addressing fears of a broader spread of COVID-19 in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area after health workers detected more than a dozen infections linked to nightclubs.
South Korea’s 13 fresh cases reported Friday were its first increase higher than 10 in five days. A dozen were linked to a 29-year-old who visited three nightclubs in Seoul last weekend.
“A drop of ink in clear water spreads swiftly,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said, urging vigilance to guard hard-won gains. “Anyone can become that drop of ink that spreads COVID-19.”
In China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged, authorities reported 17 new cases, including 16 people that tested positive but were not showing symptoms. No new deaths have been reported for more than three weeks, and 260 people remain hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment.
Russia overtook France and Germany with the fifth-highest number of cases in the world. Restrictions in Moscow have been extended until May 31.
WATCH | Questions surround death of 3 Russian doctors during pandemic:
Britain‘s minister for the environment, food and rural affairs says Prime Minister Boris Johnson won’t be announcing immediate changes to the country’s coronavirus lockdown when he addresses the nation on Sunday, as the U.K. is “not out of the woods.”
Johnson is expected to set out a roadmap of how the U.K. can start easing the lockdown in the future. Only minor changes, such as allowing individuals to sunbathe in parks and removing the limit on one daily outing for exercise, are anticipated.
In Italy, the mayor of Milan issued a furious threat on Friday to close down popular open spaces in the city after television footage showed crowds socializing and apparently ignoring public health rules aimed at preventing a resurgence of the coronavirus.
Italy loosened some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in Europe on Monday, allowing many businesses to re-open and giving people more freedom to move about, but authorities have insisted that strict physical distancing measures must still be respected.
The rules have been widely respected, but several incidents have been reported of large groups of people, many not wearing protective masks, gathering in parks and other outdoor spaces, including the Navigli, Milan’s popular canal area.
“Yesterday’s images from along the Navigli were disgraceful,” Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, said in one of his regular online messages from his office in the city centre.
Portugal’s prime minister says his country has learned a tough lesson over the past two months of the coronavirus pandemic: that you can’t depend on foreign suppliers for essential medical equipment.
“We can’t be relying on a market that’s uncontrolled and brutal, with an almost physical brawl going on to buy one ventilator here, another there,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Friday.
Turkey reported 48 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours — the lowest number of daily fatalities in more than a month. The country’s total death toll now stands at 3,689, while Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also announced 1,848 more confirmed cases, bringing the total number of infections to 135,569.
The European Union executive on Friday backed keeping curbs on travel to the continent in place for another 30 days until mid-June as part of extraordinary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus but also hurting trade and tourism.
The bloc decided in mid-March to close its external borders for any non-essential travel in a largely failed bid to prevent the 27 member states from closing frontiers inside Europe’s control-free travel zone.
Eurozone governments, meanwhile, gave their final approval on Friday to the first part of a 540 billion-euro rescue plan for states hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
In Iran, which is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East while under heavy U.S. sanctions, Friday prayers were resuming in mosques in 146 cities after being banned for more than two months, the country’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Prayer gatherings will continue to be banned in major cities, including all provincial capitals, for now, it reported.
Brazil registered 9,888 new cases and 610 deaths in the past 24 hours, while Mexico reported 1,982 new cases and 257 fatalities.
WATCH | Anticipate a ‘push and pull’ for some time as countries open up, WHO says:
The World Health Organization’s director for Africa said Thursday almost 1,000 health workers across the continent have been infected with the coronavirus. Matshidiso Moeti said that Africa already had a “severe shortage” of health workers, and with the global shortages of protective equipment many workers remain at increased risk of infection.
In Ghana, 533 workers at an industrial facility tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s health service said on Friday. Total cases also jumped by nearly 30 per cent in a single day, rising to 4,012 from 3,019 on Thursday. That is the highest case total in West Africa, although Ghana has also conducted by far the most tests in the region.