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Ontario’s daily cases continues on downward trend; Trudeau announces funding for COVID-19 research and online services – Toronto Star

The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

2:35 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting six more COVID-19 deaths at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, the site of the majority of the province’s active cases.The death toll in the province is now at 37, with 31 of those at the non-profit facility. As of Sunday, Nova Scotia has 347 active cases of COVID-19, with 220 involving residents of Northwood.

1:25 p.m. Quebec is reporting 892 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, as well as 1,317 additional cases from April that were not previously included in the provincial tally. The province says those previous cases originated mostly from the Montreal, Laval and Monteregie areas, and were not counted due to a technical problem.

The province now has 31,865 cases and 2,205 deaths, the latter an increase of 69 over yesterday. Quebec says 7,258 people have recovered from the illness.

11:50 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said “enormous evidence” shows the novel coronavirus outbreak began in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, but didn’t provide any proof for his claims.

“I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.” “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.”

The virus’s origin has become a flash point in the pandemic and ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and China. President Donald Trump has escalated efforts to attach blame to China as U.S. pandemic deaths pass 66,000.

11:40 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government is investing millions to boost online access to health services and to support a Vancouver biological company’s research into treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

The government is spending $240 million to boost access to online health services, including mental-health support and virtual access to doctors for primary care.

Ottawa is also providing $175 million to AbCellera Biologics Inc., which Trudeau says has shown promising signs of progress in identifying antibodies that could be used create a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.

11:35 a.m. A rapid test developed for COVID-19 has experienced a setback.

Ottawa’s Spartan Bioscience says it is voluntarily recalling its COVID-19 product and performing additional studies after Health Canada expressed some concerns Friday.

Spartan says Health Canada was concerned about the “efficacy of the proprietary swab” for the testing product. The company says Health Canada had no concerns about the accuracy and analytical performance of the product.

Health Canada says the product is restricted to research use only until adequate evidence of clinical performance can be provided.

11:30 The daily numbers from Ontario’s regional health units once again exhibited two distinct trends Sunday morning: The daily tally of new COVID-19 cases trended downward again despite a recent spike in testing, but the count of newly reported deaths remains stubbornly high.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the health units were reporting a total of 18,555 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, up 447 cases or a very low 2.5 per cent jump from the same time Saturday.

This slow growth was more notable following three consecutive days of very high levels of completed tests; days with big totals of new positive cases have tended to follow spikes in testing.

But this did not happen Sunday: In the morning, the province reported testing labs had processed a record 17,146 samples the previous day, but the apparent positive rate for these tests was the lowest the Star has counted, at slightly above 2.5 positive cases for every 100 tested samples.

Daily case growth has slowed greatly from the rapid increases seen in late March: In the second half of that month, the province saw an average daily growth of 20 per cent, a rate that doubled Ontario’s case count about every four days. In the first half of April that rate slowed to an average of 9.5 per cent daily growth, or doubling about every eight days. The second half of the month average about 4 per cent growth, or a doubling time of around two-and-a-half weeks.

Meanwhile, even with case growth on a downward trajectory, the rate of new deaths in the province has not yet begun to fall. As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the health units were reporting a total of 1,293 COVID-19 deaths, up 47 from the same time Saturday, a total that is about in line with the daily average for the second half of April.

Still, any count of fatal cases in the province is clearly a significant undercount because they do not yet include hundreds of confirmed deaths in long-term-care facilities. It can be several days between when these deaths are first reported by the homes themselves and when the health units enter case details into the province’s health reporting system, or to their websites.

Still, because many health units publish tallies before reporting to Public Health Ontario, the Star’s count is more current than the data the province puts out each morning.

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Earlier Sunday, the province said 1,010 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 232 in intensive care, of whom 174 are on a ventilator — numbers that were up Sunday after several days of fluctuation. The province also says more than 12,000 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered from the disease — nearly two-thirds of the total infected.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 1,216 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count, includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

8:30 a.m. India reports its biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases as the country entered the 40th day of a nationwide lockdown.

Confirmed infections have neared the 40,000 mark and the death toll has reached 1,301, including 83 deaths in the last 24 hours, officials said. The 2,600 newly confirmed cases are a single-day high for the country.

7 a.m. Italians are counting down the hours until they regain some measures of personal freedom after two months of nationwide lockdown to contain Europe’s first outbreak of COVID-19. Starting Monday, parks and public gardens can reopen for strolling, jogging or biking. But people will have to stay a meter apart, ruling out picnics and playgrounds. Spain, Thailand and South Korea also continue to relax restrictions.

But while some countries are moving to lift restrictions as infections drop Russia is seeing a spike in cases. Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday, the first time the country’s daily tally reached five figures.

More than half of the 10,633 new cases reported were in Moscow, where concern is rising about whether the capital’s medical facilities will be overwhelmed. A Russian epidemiologist says the sharp increase in coronavirus infection cases reflects increased testing.

5 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will resume his COVID-19 briefings to the nation today after taking a rare day off from the daily routine on Saturday.

With clear evidence of the pandemic curve flattening in Canada, some provinces have already begun relaxing certain lockdown restrictions, with others, including hardest hit Ontario and Quebec, set to do so on Monday.

4 a.m.: Quebec still has the most confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Here are the numbers by province and territory: Quebec: 29,656 confirmed (including 2,136 deaths, 6,965 resolved); Ontario: 18,106 confirmed (including 1,246 deaths, 11,390 resolved); Alberta: 5,670 confirmed (including 94 deaths, 2,359 resolved); British Columbia: 2,171 confirmed (including 114 deaths, 1,376 resolved); Nova Scotia: 963 confirmed (including 31 deaths, 609 resolved); Saskatchewan: 421 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 302 resolved); Manitoba: 269 confirmed (including six deaths, 236 resolved), 11 presumptive; Newfoundland and Labrador: 259 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 231 resolved); New Brunswick: 118 confirmed (including 118 resolved); Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 24 resolved); Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved); Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved); Nunavut: one confirmed

Saturday 7:08 p.m.: The total number of COVID-19 related deaths at Hawthorne Place Care Centre has risen to 23, according to executive director Gale Coburn.

In a media statement released Saturday, Coburn said 41 residents and 78 staff have COVID-19 confirmed cases.

Toronto Public Health has cleared three Hawthorne Place staff members who previously tested positive for the virus. Coburn said they are returning to work this week.

“I am so proud of each of our returning staff for their dedication and passion when it comes to our resident’s care,” he said.

In addition to the deaths reported at the Hawthorne Place Care Centre, a health care worker at Downsview Long Term Care died Saturday. Three front-line workers in the GTA have died in the span of three weeks due to COVID-19.

Saturday 5:15 p.m.: As of Saturday afternoon, there are 5,967 COVID-19 cases in Toronto, according to a news statement released by the city.

Of the 5,967 cases, 5,366 are confirmed, 601 are probable, 375 people are hospitalized with 112 are in intensive care units and 298 people in Toronto have died.

On Friday, the city received 116 complaints regarding the Civil Protection Act, with officers issuing one ticket. Since April 3, bylaw officers have issued 588 tickets.

The city received 43 complaints on Friday regarding non-essential businesses remaining open. Since March 24, Municipal Licensing & Standards, as well as Toronto Public Health have issued 99 tickets and 210 notices to non-essential businesses, according to the press release.

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