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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada


The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):


8 p.m.

Two cruise ships with Canadian passengers aboard have docked in Florida after weeks at sea.

Their arrival also comes after days of negotiations with initially resistant local officials.

The MS Zaandam and a sister ship, the MS Rotterdam, were both given permission to unload passengers at Port Everglades.

Officials had feared the ships would divert needed resources from a region that has seen a spike in virus cases.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the Canadians would stay in isolation upon their return to Canada.


6 p.m.

The B.C. government says there are 55 new cases of COVID-19 in the province for a total of 1,121.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one of the new cases is an inmate at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.

She says it's the first positive test in a correctional facility in B.C.

Henry also reports that six additional people have died after contracting the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in B.C. to 31.

She says 149 people are hospitalized, while 641 people have recovered.


5:40 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 96 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the province to 968 cases.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical health officer, also says two men in their 90s have died, bringing the number of deaths to 13.

She says the outbreak has spread to nine continuing care centres, including Calgary's McKenzie Towne centre, where there are 65 cases.

She says 174 people who tested position in the province have recovered.


4 p.m.

Passengers aboard two COVID-19-stricken cruise ships have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port.

American officials say they have reached an agreement to allow asymptomatic passengers to get off the MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam.

There are more than 200 Canadians on board the ships, which have been stranded for weeks because no country would accept them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the Canadian passengers will be brought home on a chartered flight, and will have to stay in isolation.


3:30 p.m.

More than 200 cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in Saskatchewan.

The Ministry of Health announced 13 new cases today, bringing the total to 206

Two of the people infected are in intensive case.

The government says to date, public health officials have performed more than 11,000 tests.


2 p.m.

Health care workers in Canada's federal prison system are on the verge of walking off the job in the next few days over a lack of personal protective medical gear, according to their union.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada says there is a "real, escalating danger" that prison nurses won't show up for work, citing provisions of the Canada Labour Code that allow workers to refuse unsafe work.

Union president Debi Daviau says her members understand there is a shortage of much-needed equipment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she says there is no need to have every medical staffer at work in every institution as the pandemic spreads.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has asked the federal prison service and parole board to look at early release for some offenders.


1:59 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting 10 more cases of COVID-19, for a provincial total of 91.

The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says there is one community where five members of a church have tested positive.

She did not identify which community or church, but again stressed the need for social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings.


1:15 p.m.

The B.C. government is increasing the monthly amount that people on income and disability assistance receive to help them with COVID-19.

Anyone on those programs who is not eligible for the federal government's emergency support programs will get an automatic $300 monthly supplement for the three months, starting this month.

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson says the supplement will also go to low-income seniors.

As well, he says people who are getting assistance from the province will not see a reduction in their benefits if they also qualify for the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit.


1:15 p.m. 

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is encouraging police to be less tolerant with people refusing to follow the COVID-19 rules of engagement.

Legault says he's hearing of people who are flouting physical distancing rules or companies that remain open and is warning who aren't following public health regulations will be hit with fines ranging between $1,000 and $6,000.

Quebec has seen another spike of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, reporting 5,518 cases in the province today.

That number represents an increase of 907 cases in the province since Wednesday.

Authorities also reported three more deaths, bringing the provincial tally to 36.


1:15 p.m.

Melania Trump says she has spoken with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau to wish her good health as she recovers from COVID-19.

The U.S. first lady says on Twitter that she spoke with her Canadian counterpart earlier today and expressed gratitude for what she calls the special relationship between the two countries as they address pandemic-related challenges.

A readout of the call from the White House says Trump and Trudeau discussed the importance of maintaining the economic links between Canada and the U.S., and noted the $1.7 billion US worth of daily trade that crosses their shared border.

The two also discussed the repatriation efforts that are ongoing to get Americans and Canadians home from cruise ships and other places around the world.


1 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 20 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 193 confirmed cases.

Health officials say five people are currently in hospital, while 16 people have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

Most cases in Nova Scotia are connected to travel or a known case, with one confirmed case of community transmission to date.

Nova Scotia's cabinet met today by teleconference and agreed to ask the lieutenant governor to extend the province's state of emergency for another two weeks, with the order to take effect at noon Sunday, April 5th and extend to noon, April 19th.


1 p.m.

Prince Edward Island has one new case of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 22.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the latest case is a man in his 50s and is related to international travel.

Three cases on the Island are considered as recovered.

P.E.I. has begun doing its own COVID-19 testing, reducing the reliance on the national laboratory.


12:30 p.m.

There are eight more positive cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing the total to 183 in the province. 

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, says 143 cases have been linked to a funeral home in St. John's where someone with the illness attended a service earlier this month.

The eight new cases are in the Eastern Health region.

Fitzgerald says 11 people are in hospital and four in intensive care.


12:20 p.m.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says 15 people living in Indigenous communities have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Miller says the virus is a unique challenge in communities that are remote and he says the government is trying to get equipment there to help.

But he says COVID-19 is just one of the challenges Indigenous communities are facing this spring, including the risk of flooding.


12:15 p.m.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, says almost half of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Canada have occurred in long term care homes.

Tam says at least 50 of the 111 deaths already confirmed took place in these high risk settings.

She says we need to double down on efforts to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading.


11:30 a.m.

More than 11 million face masks have arrived in Canada in recent days, including a shipment of one million masks that arrived at a Hamilton warehouse overnight, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

He said workers are trying to quickly assess that they meet the needed standards, and that 10 million masks are already being distributed to provinces and territories.

He also said the government has ordered hundreds of thousands of face shields from Bauer, the company that normally makes hockey equipment.


10:35 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 401 more COVID-19 cases today, including 16 more deaths.

A Bobcaygeon nursing home is also reporting two more deaths of residents in a COVID-19 outbreak there, bringing the total to 16.

In the province, there are now 2,793 cases of COVID-19, including 53 deaths and 831 resolved.


6:10 a.m.

A survey by an organization representing the Canadian restaurant industry says that over 300,000 restaurant jobs have been lost in Ontario as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Restaurants Canada estimates that 800,000 jobs have been lost in the sector nationwide.

The company said nearly one in 10 restaurants in Canada have already closed and nearly one in five expect to close if conditions don't get better in a month.

Restaurant Canada CEO and President said the numbers are the worst he's seen since Restaurants Canada was founded 75 years ago.


The Canadian Press

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