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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada


The latest news on the novel coronavirus and the illness dubbed COVID-19 (all times Eastern):

7:22 p.m.

The BC Council of Forest Industries is cancelling its 2020 convention in Prince George because of COVID-19.

President Susan Yurkovich says the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic made cancelling the convention a "prudent" decision to avoid putting the health and safety of delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and staff at "unnecessary risk."

The organization says the convention, scheduled from April 1 to 3, is the largest gathering of the forest sector in Western Canada and attracts CEOs and executives from across continental North America and overseas companies.


7 p.m.

British Columbia now has 46 cases of COVID-19, including its first one on Vancouver Island.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says seven of the newly diagnosed people include two workers at a long-term care home where four other employees have been infected.

The North Vancouver facility is also where a man in his 80s died earlier this week.

Henry says three of the new cases are linked to Egypt and include a visitor in his 70s whose relatives in the Fraser Valley are now also in isolation.


6:45 p.m.

B.C.'s Green party is cancelling all in-person public events to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19.

The party's executive director, Andrew Brown, says all staff, volunteers and leadership campaigns have been told to cancel public events and to held them online when possible.

The party is in the process of electing a new leader with the results of the contest being announced at a party convention in Nanaimo on June 27.


6:36 p.m.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is calling for the first ministers meeting scheduled for Friday to be held by teleconference.

Higgs told reporters this evening he hasn't cancelled his trip to Ottawa, but his office is in communication with the federal government and with fellow premiers suggesting the meeting be conducted remotely.

He notes there is a travel ban for government of New Brunswick employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he says he should also respect the ban and remain in the province.

He made the remarks as public health officials announced the province's first presumptive case of COVID-19.


6:15 p.m.

A second federal cabinet minister is self-isolating while she awaits the results of a test for COVID-19.

Mary Ng, the minister of small business and international trade, says she thinks she's suffering from asthma and a cold but has been tested for the novel coronavirus to make sure.

Ng was with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an appearance in Toronto on Monday and coughed frequently as she sat at his side.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan is also staying home while he waits for the results of a COVID-19 test.


6:05 p.m.

Alberta is reporting five new cases COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 19.

While Dr. Deena Hinshaw says all of the new cases are travel related, a man in his 30s visited the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton for unrelated treatment before testing positive.

Hinshaw says there is no risk to staff and patients at the hospital at this time.

She is advising anyone over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions to avoid travel outside Canada.


5:55 p.m.

The head of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario says the risk of COVID-19 is no longer low.

Doris Grinspun said "at best we can say that the risk is uncertain."

The comments came hours after the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic and called out "alarming levels of inaction."

Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter that the assessment is "not unexpected" and that "our public health system is prepared."

Nevertheless, Grinspun said the Ontario government must move faster to execute "an all-sector approach" that includes more offsite assessment centres and virtual care.

Health officials in several provinces have announced plans to conduct screening away from hospitals, including Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

Grinspun said she sent the Ontario government plans for virtual care measures and is waiting for the green light to act.


5:45 p.m.

Ontario has confirmed its 42nd case of COVID-19.

Public Health Ontario says a woman in her 40s from Toronto has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The woman recently travelled to the United States.

Public health officials say she is in self-isolation.


5:30 p.m.

New Brunswick has its first presumptive case of COVID-19.

Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the case involves a woman between 50 and 60 years old in the southern part of the province.

The woman recently travelled from France and is in self-isolation.

New Brunswick is the first province east of Quebec to report a presumptive case of the disease linked to the novel coronavirus.


5:15 p.m.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the government expects between 30 and 70 per cent of Canadians could be infected by the novel coronavirus if the global pandemic reaches widespread transmission in Canada.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says of those who become sick, about six per cent would likely need intensive care based on the experience of other countries.

Members of the House of Commons health committee raised the alarm about what that will mean for the availability of ventilators in Canada in the event of a major outbreak.

NDP health critic Don Davies says he understands there are only about 5,000 ventilators in Canada, which could mean there are not enough to go around.


4:44 p.m.

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says an eighth case of COVID-19 has been identified in Quebec.

Health officials say the person is from the Mauricie region in central Quebec, had recently returned from travelling in France, and is in self-isolation at home.

McCann says officials are keeping close tabs on the evolving situation and adds that among Quebec's eight cases, only two people are hospitalized.

The health minister says business travel is cancelled for government employees, and public sector health-care workers have also been advised not to travel for personal reasons if possible.

She says decisions on whether international events in the province will go ahead will be taken on a case-by-case basis.


3:35 p.m.

The world figure-skating championships in Montreal have been cancelled because of the spread of COVID-19.

The championships were scheduled to run March 18 to 22 at the Bell Centre.

It is the latest sporting event that has been wiped out by the novel coronavirus.

The world women's hockey championship, which was scheduled to start later this month in Nova Scotia, was cancelled on Saturday.

The other major winter world championship event in Canada remains on schedule: The women's world curling championship is to start Saturday in Prince George, B.C.


3 p.m.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health says she doesn't believe one of the province's most recent cases is evidence of community spread of COVID-19.

A man in his 50s from Sudbury, Ont., was confirmed to have the novel coronavirus after attending a mining conference last week in Toronto.

It's not clear if the man recently travelled outside the country or had close contact with someone confirmed to have the illness.

But Dr. Barbara Yaffe says it is likely he acquired the virus at that conference, which was attended by more than 20,000 people from many different countries.


2 p.m.

Ontario has announced a $100-million contingency fund to deal with COVID-19.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the money will likely go toward buying more equipment such as testing kits and personal protective gear.

She says it may also be used to hire more health-care staff, if needed.


1:55 p.m.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the WHO declaration of COVID 19 as a pandemic comes as no surprise.

She says the government had already been preparing as if the spread of the disease were a pandemic.

She says those preparations including pulling together the $1-billion package announced by the Liberals today to address the fallout, including more money for medical supplies, equipment and research.


1:37 p.m.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is looking at changing workplace rules to help workers who may need time off during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kenney says the province is eyeing regulatory changes so people no longer need doctors' notes to get authorization to stay at home after showing symptoms of the virus.

He says it's also looking at whether legal clarification is needed to prevent employers from laying off people who are self-isolating.

However, Kenney says he trusts employers to do the right thing and not punish Albertans who are trying to avoid spreading the virus.

Alberta has 14 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.


12:56 p.m.

Laurentian University is moving all its classes online starting tomorrow.

The school in Sudbury, Ont., says it's a response to the confirmation late Tuesday of a case of COVID-19 in the city.

An email from administrators says the school had a "major presence" at a mining conference in Toronto last week that the person with the illness attended.

Laurentian is cancelling outright activities that have to be done in person, such as class laboratory work.

Numerous universities and colleges in the United States have made similar moves in the past week.


12:30 p.m.

The World Health Organization says COVID-19 is officially a pandemic.

WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at a news conference in Geneva, but is urging calm, saying with prevention, preparedness and political leadership it can be managed.

He says calling the situation a pandemic doesn't change the organization's assessment of the threat from the illness or what countries should do to prepare and combat it.


12:25 p.m.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says politicians need to follow the same advice as anybody else to stop the spread of the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

Handshakes are out, handwashing is in, and avoiding needless contact with others is key.

Champagne was supposed to travel to Pittsburgh for a meeting of G7 foreign ministers later this month but the U.S. State Department says today that the gathering will be held by video conference instead.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan is awaiting the results of a test for COVID-19 after going to a doctor with what he believes is a simple cold.


11:35 a.m.

A Hamilton doctor has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Hamilton Health Sciences says a doctor working in its cancer centre — who lives in Halton Region outside Toronto — has tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from an international trip.

A hospital spokesperson says the doctor returned to work after the trip and was in contact with patients and staff the afternoon of March 9.

The hospital says it is now contacting people who came into contact with the doctor and she is in self-isolation at home.


11:22 a.m.

Air Canada says travellers can now change their tickets up to 24 hours before their flights without incurring a rebooking fee, the airline's latest response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The new policy allows passengers to make a one-time change to any ticket purchased between March 4 and March 31.

It adds leeway to Air Canada's announcement last Thursday that it would waive change fees up to two weeks before a departure, with travel controls imposed by foreign governments evolving daily.

The ongoing March 31 deadline still falls short of announcements by several U.S. airlines this week, with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines allowing passengers to rebook tickets to any destination through April 30 without paying fees.

The fee waiver by Canada's largest airline underscores ramped-up efforts to mitigate the blow dealt by the spread of COVID-19, which has seen bookings plunge and cancellations soar at carriers across the globe.

National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen forecasts that the epidemic will cost Air Canada $1.4 billion in adjusted earnings this year, which would mean a 40 per cent decline from 2019.


11:13 a.m.

Health officials in Quebec say the province is now up to seven confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Authorities said in a tweet late Tuesday a presumptive case involving a cruise ship passenger has been confirmed.

Two other new confirmed cases involve a passenger returning from Miami and the Caribbean who is hospitalized at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and someone returning from the Dominican Republic who is in self-isolation.

Quebec's public health lab is now able to confirm cases, but if officials are unsure, a second result may be requested from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.


11:06 a.m.

A Canadian under quarantine at an Ontario military base after leaving a contaminated cruise ship in California has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Public Health Agency of Canada isn't revealing any details about the patient's identity.

The person seemed healthy upon leaving the Grand Princess ship in California but was found to have a mild fever and a cough in an assessment at CFB Trenton.

He or she is in isolation at the base, where hundreds of other Canadians repatriated from the cruise are also staying.


10:57 a.m.

Ontario is now reporting 41 cases of the novel coronavirus.

One of the latest cases includes a man from Sudbury, Ont., who attended a recent conference in Toronto, and officials are investigating whether he contracted COVID-19 through community spread.

Two new cases are in people who recently travelled to the United States — a man in his 30s who lives in Toronto and a doctor in her 30s who lives in Halton Region but was treated at hospital in Hamilton, where she works.

Another confirmed case is in a woman in her 30s in York Region who recently travelled to Egypt.

A man in his 40s in Ottawa who recently travelled to Austria has also been confirmed to have the virus.

All of the people with new cases are in self-isolation.


10:52 a.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says the province will decide today whether the world figure-skating championships scheduled for next week in Montreal should go ahead.

He told reporters in Quebec City there is a chance the event will be cancelled.

Skate Canada, the sport's national governing body, postponed two media conference calls scheduled for Wednesday with athletes.

Legault also called on schools to cancel trips to countries grappling with the novel coronavirus outbreak and said students returning from those countries should isolate themselves for 14 days.


10:40 a.m.

A Montreal-area private school that caters to French expatriates has partly closed today while officials await test results for a student suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

College international Marie de France says students between the ages of 15 and 17 are affected. Other classes are proceeding as usual.

The decision announced to parents Tuesday was made by France's consulate general in Quebec and the French Embassy in Ottawa, along with school officials.

The school, which implements the programs of the French Ministry of National Education, says if the student tests negative, classes will resume as normal. If the case is confirmed, classes will shut for 14 days with lessons continuing online.


9:15 a.m.

The federal government is spending $1 billion to help provinces respond to the novel coronavirus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing the aid in Ottawa this morning.

He says Canada has been fortunate so far but the country needs to be prepared for all scenarios.

The illness has sickened more than 100,000 people around the world and led to mass quarantines and restrictions on public gatherings.


9 a.m.

A spokeswoman for Doug Ford says the Ontario premier is not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms after attending a conference where an attendee tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention on March 2 — the same day as the novel coronavirus patient.

Ford's office says the premier has not been contacted by health officials who are tracking down people who came into contact with the patient.

Health officials say the patient is currently in self-isolation at his home in Sudbury, Ont.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.


The Canadian Press