Canadians are set to receive renewed federal help as Parliament passed legislation authorizing new financial aid, while Ontario announced more than $500 million in new funding to protect long-term care.
- Liberals survive confidence vote as COVID-19 aid bill passes unanimously.
- Ottawa adds 64 more cases on the last day of September.
- Number of new cases in Ontario doubling every 10 to 12 days.
- Health Canada approves ID NOW rapid testing device.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges Brits to follow the rules.
- O’Toole, Blanchet return to Commons after COVID-19 isolation.
- UN says pandemic has taken ‘an unprecedented toll’ on the economies of many developing countries.
Canadians are set to receive renewed federal help amid the coronavirus pandemic as Parliament passed legislation authorizing new financial aid, while Ontario announced more than $500 million in new funding to protect long-term care.
On early Wednesday morning, the federal government unanimously passed Bill C-4 — legislation authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vote, which was considered a confidence measure, earned the support of the more adversarial parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives. It passed 306-0.
The bill is intended to replace the now-defunct $500-per-week Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), which came to an end last weekend after helping almost nine million Canadians weather the pandemic’s impact.
The bill introduces a series of new COVID-19 benefits for Canadians to ease their transition away from CERB.
Millions of CERB recipients will transition automatically to employment insurance (EI). Expanded eligibility rules will also mean more people can qualify and the changes also include three new replacement benefits.
WATCH | Ottawa to buy millions of rapid COVID-19 tests after approval:
Ottawa has signed an agreement to buy millions of rapid-test devices for COVID-19, but it hasn’t been approved by Health Canada. The technology promises to detect the virus in less than 15 minutes and many are pushing to speed up its approval. 1:56
September has been a record breaking month for Ottawa as the city ends the month with 64 more confirmed cases of COVID, adding to the more than 1,300 reported over the course of the month.
On Wednesday, 43 out of 64 new cases were from people under the age of 40, most of them in their 20s and 30s.
With more than 20 deaths linked to COVID-19 so far this month, Ottawa’s medical officer of health said the city is experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
WATCH | Ontario scrambles to contain 2nd round of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes:
There are at least 46 confirmed outbreaks at Ontario long-term care homes as the province scrambles to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 from getting out of control. But after almost 1,900 deaths in long-term care homes since the pandemic began, some say the province should have been able to prevent these new outbreaks. 2:11
Meanwhile in Ontario, health authorities say they are expecting new daily cases of COVID-19 to reach 1,000 in the first half of October, as the province confirmed another 625 new infections on Wednesday.
According to Adalsteinn Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, the number of new cases reported daily are doubling every 10 to 12 days. That means the province could see a “remarkably high surge” in the next coming weeks.
He said the growth in infections was initially limited to the 20-39 age group, however now, cases are climbing in every age group.
“Although we see a large amount of infections among younger people right now, this is likely starting to spill over into older age groups, which is where we see the most tragic and most challenging consequences for health and for the health-care system,” said Brown.
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 11:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 158,425 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 134,194 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,332.
As the number of active coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, Health Canada regulators approved the ID NOW rapid COVID-19 testing device on Wednesday.
The Abbott Laboratories-backed molecular devices can be administered by trained professionals at places like pharmacies, without the need for a laboratory to determine if someone is infected with the virus.
The point of care devices could give results in 15 minutes and could help improve tests for communities across Canada dealing with a surge in coronavirus cases.
To date, the vast majority of tests have been done at public health clinics, with samples then sent to laboratories for analysis — a process that can take days.
Now that cold season has started, it may be time to take some symptoms off the COVID-19 checklist, says New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health.
Dr. Jennifer Russell said her colleagues from across the country have talked about “streamlining” testing requirements to avoid a logjam of tests for people who end up simply having a cold.
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Several of the symptoms for COVID-19 overlap with those of the common cold, including a runny nose, sore throat and headache. Those are three of the 10 symptoms British Columbia removed last week.
She said the system can handle the current situation, but if there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick, then the checklist may have to be scaled back.
Quebec will start using the federal government’s COVID-19 exposure alert app in the coming days, the provincial government said Tuesday, reversing its earlier opposition to the technology in an effort to slow a rapid increase in infections.
The ongoing wave of infections has already prompted the Quebec government to shut bars, restaurant dining rooms and theatres for most of October in the densest areas of the province. Social gatherings at home have also been banned.
WATCH | Critical contact tracing backlog as COVID-19 cases rise in Ontario:
Ontario has put a lot of effort into ramping up its COVID-19 testing, but experts say contact tracing is lagging woefully behind and it may be too late to fix the problem. 2:01
Officials say they have had difficulty tracing those who have been in contact with a positive case, hampering efforts to isolate potentially contagious individuals.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Christian Dubé said he was in the process of finalizing details about adopting the federal app, COVID Alert, which informs users when they have had prolonged contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet are back on Parliament Hill Wednesday after self-isolating for two weeks due to positive COVID-19 tests.
Blanchet said his personal experience should serve as a warning to everyone to take public health guidance seriously.
“Some people go through it much more painfully than I did. I was very, very, very lucky. Some people die of that thing,” he told a news conference.
“There is no absolute protection. There [are] only ways to reduce the probability of catching the thing and giving it to someone who might be more vulnerable to it.”
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 33.7 million. More than one million people have died, while over 23.4 million have recovered.
The United Nations chief says the COVID-19 pandemic has taken “an unprecedented toll,” especially on the economies of many developing countries, and the world has not responded with “the massive and urgent support those countries and communities need.”
Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that in the United States, Canada, Europe and most of the developed world, governments have adopted packages valued in double-digits of GDP to help tackle the coronavirus crisis and its impact.
“The problem is to mobilize the resources to allow the developing countries to be able to do the same,” he told a joint press conference with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who have been jointly spearheading high-level meetings to try to raise the resources.
WATCH | U.K.’s Boris Johnson vows to fight and defeat coronavirus:
Saying it’s vital to protect the U.K.’s health service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Britons to follow the rules around COVID-19 and help defeat the coronavirus. 1:21
Meanwhile the number of deaths and people being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Britain are rising again. On Wednesday, there were 7,108 new infections reported and 71 virus-related deaths, the same number of deaths confirmed the day before.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people on Wednesday to continue to social distance, wear masks, wash their hands and download the coronavirus app.
“I know that some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course, despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “I profoundly disagree and I don’t think it’s what the British people want.”
South Korea reported 113 new cases of COVID-19, its first daily increase over 100 in five days, as the country entered a holiday break that officials fear would possibly worsen transmissions.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday brought the caseload to 23,812, including 413 deaths.
Eighty-one of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to stem transmissions linked to various sources, including churches, medical facilities, restaurants, schools and workers.
Indonesia on Wednesday reported 4,284 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 287,008, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.
There were also 139 additional coronavirus-related deaths reported, taking the total number of fatalities to 10,740.
Russia has completed clinical trials of a second potential vaccine against COVID-19, developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, the RIA news agency cited Russian consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying on Wednesday.
The institute completed early-stage human trials, known as Phase II, earlier this month.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday pledged $100 million US to help developing countries access a COVID-19 vaccine as World Bank President David Malpass said “broad, rapid and affordable” access to vaccines “will be at the core of a resilient global economic recovery that lifts everyone.”
Merkel also called on “those who are still dithering” to commit to the global vaccine effort.
The Czech government will limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor ones to 20 as part of new measures taking effect for two weeks from Monday to combat a surge in coronavirus cases, Health Minister Roman Prymula said on Wednesday.
Sports matches will continue but without spectators, and theatres and cinemas can still operate, but concerts, musicals and operas will be banned, Prymula said.