Children in four provinces will be out of school for an extended period as health officials and governments across the country strive to slow the spread of coronavirus, a pandemic that has sparked a state of emergency in the U.S. and a spate of travel restrictions in countries around the world.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation from outside his home, where he is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that was first identified in China. Trudeau said his government would be introducing a “significant” fiscal package in the days ahead.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members.”
The prime minister’s remarks came ahead of a slew of announcements from his cabinet ministers, who offered details around what Canada will do on everything from international airline travel to a $10-billion credit facility for businesses dealing with the fallout from the virus and economic uncertainty.
The Bank of Canada also made a move Friday, announcing an emergency rate cut from 1.25 to 0.75 per cent. The cut is meant to be a “proactive measure taken in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices,” the bank said in a statement.
The government also advised Canadians to avoid all international travel. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, cautioned that people who do travel abroad could get caught up in a quarantine or travel bans imposed by the countries they visit.
Tam, who has reiterated throughout the outbreak the importance of protective measures like proper hand hygiene and staying home while sick, said Friday that people in Canada should take extra steps to stay safe, including measures like social distancing.
“This means avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings, considering shopping or taking public transport in off-peak hours and greeting one another with a wave or elbow instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus in a matter of weeks.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in provinces with COVID-19 cases
For full detail about what’s happening in every province — including those that do not yet have cases — visit your local site.
Ontario, which has reported the most cases in Canada to date, announced on Thursday that schools would be closed for two weeks in addition to the scheduled spring break. Cities across the province made their own plans, calling for the closure of non-essential services like rec centres. At the same time, there were moves to set up temporary, stand-alone screening centres for COVID-19, like this one in Ottawa. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In B.C., officials have asked people who travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Premier John Horgan said on Twitter that the province is doing “all we can to break the chain of transmission” of the novel coronavirus. The province has also directed organizers to cancel events of more than 250 people. Both Horgan and the province’s top doctor noted that doesn’t mean people need to avoid restaurants, or stop shopping or attending things like family events. Read more about what’s happening in B.C. here.
In Alberta, the premier announced a change to the labour code that would allow people who need to self-isolate or care for someone else who is isolated to do that for two weeks without losing their jobs. The government, which had planned cuts to the province’s health service, also announced Friday that cuts to front-line workers wouldn’t be going forward during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta here.
Quebec’s premier announced Friday that schools — from daycares right up through to college and university — would be closing for two weeks. “I understand that today’s announcement will have a significant effect on a lot of parents,” Premier François Legault said Friday. “But this is a measure we have to take.” Montreal moved to close nonessential services like libraries and sports centres, while hospitals in the city moved to restrict visitors — and in some cases, ban them entirely. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec here.
Manitoba, which has four confirmed and presumptive cases, announced this week that its students would also be out of school for an extra two weeks. “We need to stay ahead of the virus, instead of running behind it,” Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said Friday. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba here.
Health officials in Saskatchewan, which has two presumptive cases, have ordered events of 250 people or more to be cancelled as of Monday. “This does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces,” a statement from the government said. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan here.
New Brunswick, which has reported one confirmed case, also moved to close schools for two weeks, with an exception for daycares. “I want to be proactive,” Premier Blaine Higgs said. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick.
As of late Friday night, Canada was reporting nearly 200 cases. To date, the death of a resident of a B.C. long-term care facility is the only known death linked to COVID-19 in Canada.
Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 8 a.m. ET
The U.S. now has 50 coronavirus deaths, and cases in all but one state. The latest death was in California, the state’s sixth COVID-19 fatality, an elderly woman in Santa Clara County south of San Francisco. Most deaths have occurred in Washington state, which reported six more on Friday, bringing its total to 37.
Florida has 25 new cases, with six in Miami and nine in Broward County, the Miami Herald reports.
The U.S. House approved legislation early Saturday to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump on Friday declared the outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight it, then threw his support behind the congressional aid package.
From the Rose Garden, Trump said, “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” unleashing as much as $50 billion US for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.
Trump also announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-through locations, as Washington tries to subdue the new virus whose spread is roiling markets, shuttering institutions and disrupting the lives of everyday Americans.
But he denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available as his administration has come under criticism for being too slow to respond. Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the slow rollout of testing.
A tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University was reporting nearly 2,174 cases in the U.S. as of early Saturday.
Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, says his foundation will donate 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits and 1 million masks to the U.S.
WATCH: How scientists at Johns Hopkins University are tracking COVID-19
As the House prepared to vote late Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the hard-fought package that will provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.
“We did what we said we were going to do: Put families first,” said Pelosi, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, including many freshmen. The House passed the bill after midnight on a bipartisan vote, 363-40. It now goes to the Senate.
Trump’s tweet of approval instilled fresh energy in the package, all but ensuring that wary Republicans would join with a robust vote. “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!” Trump wrote, “Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”
The crush of late-day activity capped a tumultuous week in Washington as the fast-moving virus left ordinary Americans suddenly navigating self-quarantines, school closures and a changed way of life.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 8 a.m. ET
Health authorities in Spain say the country’s coronavirus cases have reached 5,753 people, of which almost 3,000 are in the capital, Madrid. That represents a national increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours. No new figures for deaths were immediately announced, but as of Friday, Spain had recorded 120 COVID-19 deaths.
Already cooped up most of the day in their homes under Italy’s nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus, millions of Italians woke up on Saturday to find themselves deprived of one of the few simple pleasures left: a walk in the park.
Mayors of many cities, including Rome and Milan, had decided by late Friday to close public playgrounds and parks. Local media say Italy has reported 1,266 deaths from the virus, which has caused major strain on the country — particularly in the north. To date, local media say the country has seen more than 17,660 cases, a tally that includes people who have recovered, the dead and people still living with the virus.
WATCH: How social distancing can limit the spread of COVID-19
According to BBC News, the U.K. is considering a ban on mass gatherings as case numbers there near 800. In France, iconic tourist destinations like The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Versailles were closed after the government banned events of more than 100 people.
Spain’s cabinet will meet Saturday to declare a two-week state of emergency and announce more measures to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has spiked sharply in recent days to over 4,000 infections in the country. The measure would allow the government to limit free movement, confiscate goods, and take over control of industries and private facilities, including private hospitals.
Here’s what’s happening in China, South Korea and Japan
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 5 a.m. ET
While infections continue to climb around the world, in mainland China the number of new cases is falling. The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, data released by the National Health Commission showed on Saturday.
Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases on Friday, up from eight cases a day earlier, but only four of those — all in the virus epicentre of Hubei province — were locally transmitted. Hubei has now seen new infections fall for nine straight days. All four of the new cases on Friday, down from five a day earlier, were in provincial capital Wuhan.
The flu-like virus has infected 80,824 people in mainland China, the commission said.
In South Korea, the prime minister the country’s war against the coronavirus is broadening despite a notable decline in new cases. He is urging vigilance after the emergence of infection clusters in areas including Seoul and warning of the possibility that the virus re-enters the country from abroad amid widening outbreaks in the West.
Chung Sye-kyun’s comments during a government meeting on Saturday came as infections continued to slow in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which has reported daily increases of 60 to 70 cases over the past three days after averaging around 500 new cases per day a week ago.
South Korea reported 117 new cases and five more fatalities, bringing its total numbers to 8,086 cases and 72 deaths. Officials said 204 people were released from hospitals, making Saturday the second consecutive day that recoveries outnumbered new infections.
Here’s a look at some other COVID-19 news from around the world, including hard-hit nations like Iran and Japan
From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:30 a.m. ET
Saudi Arabia said Saturday that it would halt all international flights to the kingdom for two weeks in the latest effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. Gulf nations have been scrambling to contain the pandemic, which has spread to more than 100 countries and infected more than 130,000 people. Of special concern is nearby Iran, where one of the worst outbreaks has infected more than 11,000 and killed more than 500.
Japan’s Defence Ministry says one of its officials tested positive for the virus Friday after returning from Paris where he attended an international defence seminar. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is calling for continued vigilance, but says Japan doesn’t need to call a state of emergency at this time, saying there is “no explosive spread of infections” in the country. Japan is reporting more than 700 domestic cases, and nearly 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced what she says will be some of the toughest border restrictions in the world in an attempt to keep out the new coronavirus. From Monday, all incoming passengers, including New Zealand citizens, will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days. The only countries exempt from the restrictions are a handful of Pacific islands that haven’t yet had any cases of COVID-19.
Indonesia reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infection to 96 in the Southeast Asian country, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said on Saturday. The total number of deaths from coronavirus rose to five, Yurianto said.
Turkey says flights from nine European countries will halt Saturday as the country reports its fifth case of coronavirus.
Colombia’s president has ordered his nation’s border with Venezuela closed as a coronavirus containment measure.