Today’s coronavirus news: Canada’s chief public health officer warns of virus fatigue among young, calls upward trend of infections ‘worrisome;’ Blue Jays to play home games in BuffaloBlau Medical News
12:30 p.m.: Tam warns of virus fatigue among young
12:15 p.m.: Blue Jays to play home games in Buffalo
8:24 a.m.: German dogs successfully detect infected people
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
2:34 p.m. There are 113,043 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 8,878 deaths, according to The Canadian Press.
These break down as follows (NOTE: The Star does its own count for Ontario; see entries elsewhere here.):
- Quebec: 58,243 confirmed (including 5,663 deaths, 50,615 resolved)
- Ontario: 38,405 confirmed (including 2,758 deaths, 34,100 resolved)
- Alberta: 9,975 confirmed (including 176 deaths, 8,506 resolved)
- British Columbia: 3,392 confirmed (including 190 deaths, 2,898 resolved)
- Saskatchewan: 1,072 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 838 resolved)
- Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)
- Manitoba: 371 confirmed (including seven deaths, 319 resolved), 13 presumptive
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 265 confirmed (including three deaths, 259 resolved)
- New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including two deaths, 163 resolved)
- Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)
- Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
- Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed, all of which have been resolved
- Northwest Territories: five confirmed, all of which have been resolved
- Nunavut reports no confirmed cases, but two presumed to be.
2:05 p.m.: A City of Toronto employee working at a child-care centre has tested positive for COVID-19, the city said in a news release. The person was working at the Falstaff Early Learning and Child Care Centre in North York.
Following the positive result, one of the programs at the centre is being temporary closed, while the staff members and the children in the program are being isolated for 14 days.
Family with children at the centre were advised of the situation late yesterday, and that the room is being “thoroughly cleaned and sanitized,” the city said.
However, the other programs at the centre are being resumed and will carry on as usual as there is “minimal risk to the other children and staff at the centre.”
1:25 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford says health officials want “a little more time” to decide when Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex could join the rest of the province in Stage 3 reopenings. Decision won’t be until next Weds, not on Monday as expected.
12:30 p.m.: Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, is warning about virus fatigue among the young. She says the 20-39 age group represents the highest incident rates in past two weeks, with more than 60 per cent of reported cases this week in that age group, and calls the upward trend “worrisome.”
“We need to keep on top of things to prevent reacceleration of growth which can quickly get out of control,” Tam said.
“I must urge all Canadians, especially young adults, to not give into COVID-19 fatigue,” Tam added. “This is your generation and your future that is being shaped.”
12:15 p.m. (updated): The Toronto Blue Jays will play home games at their triple-A affiliate’s stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. this season. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement official just before noon.
“We are extremely grateful to have a home in Buffalo this season, thanks to the openness, creativity, and partnership of the Buffalo Bisons, Major League Baseball, and Blue Jays staff, who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for games at Sahlen Field,” Mark Shapiro, club president and CEO, said in a statement.
The team’s first home series versus the Washington Nationals — July 29 and 30 — will take place on the road, to accommodate necessary infrastructure modifications at Sahlen Field to meet Major League Baseball standards of play and safety requirements.
The Blue Jays will either host its first home game in Buffalo on July 31 vs. the Philadelphia Phillies, or on Aug. 11 against the Miami Marlins.
“This process has no doubt tested our team’s resilience, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses — we are determined to take the field on Opening Day today, and for the coming months, with the same intensity and competitiveness that our fans expect,” Shapiro said.
Canada’s lone Major League Baseball team was forced to find a new home for 2020 after the federal government last week rejected the club’s proposal for the Blue Jays and visiting teams to stay in the hotel inside Rogers Centre and never leave the facility during stints in Toronto.
The Blue Jays would have needed an exception to the traditional 14-day quarantine from the federal government to play in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state of Pennsylvania also didn’t clear the Blue Jays to play home games in Pittsburgh.
Before the federal government’s decision last week, the Blue Jays were considering their spring-training facility in Dunedin, Fla., and Buffalo.
But surging COVID-19 rates in Florida and a lack of space and lighting concerns in Buffalo raised questions about both those options, leading the Blue Jays to look at other major-league sites.
In the end, the Blue Jays couldn’t find another major-league stadium, and settled on Buffalo.
12 p.m: Windsor-Essex’s medical officer of health says that region now has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the region passed Toronto and Peel this week with 484 cases per 100,000 people, calling the situation “stressful and concerning.”
Ahmed says the jump in cases can be attributed to outbreaks on local farms and increasing cases in the community likely due to reopening of the region weeks ago.
Hundreds of migrant workers in the region have tested positive for the virus over the past few months and two have died.
On Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said an on-farm testing effort had recently been paused after only 19 of 176 in the region participated.
Dr. David Williams said a new communications package has been created for farms and their workers as the testing restarts.
Ahmed says he will not rule out making testing mandatory for workers on farms when he thinks may be at risk of outbreak.
11:45 a.m.: Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should resign over his role in the controversy involving the We organization.
Scheer has previously called for Finance Minister Bill Morneau to be fired for trips he and members of his family took in 2017, part of which were paid for by the WE organization.
Scheer now says members of the Liberal caucus who do not want to be seen as complicit should demand that their leader quit.
When asked if he would be willing to force an election over the issue in the minority Parliament, Scheer said such an opportunity will not come until the House of Commons resumes full business in September, which is why he says Trudeau and Morneau should leave now of their own accord.
11:45 a.m.: Quebec is reporting 163 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally to 58,243 infections since the pandemic began.
The province also reported one new death today for a total of 5,663.
Hospitalizations dropped by one patient, to 220.
Of those in hospital, 12 people are in intensive care, two fewer than the previous day.
Health authorities say 16,383 tests were conducted July 22, the last date for which data is available.
The province says 50,615 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus to date.
11:40 a.m.: The Trudeau government is being pressed to approve funding for a made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine to lessen the risk Canadians will have to line up and wait on a foreign-made pandemic cure.
For instance, health-care professionals have written to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to urge him make up his mind on a proposal submitted in April by Providence Therapeutics of Toronto. The company is seeking $35 million to establish whether its vaccine is effective in humans after successful animal trials.
They say Canada has no guarantee it will be at the front of any line for an internationally produced pandemic cure. They attribute government’s slowness to a long-standing public policy problem: reluctance to partner with pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the same way it has tried to bolster other sectors.
11:35 a.m.: The Canadian Grand Prix has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formula One said in a statement Friday that it decided to hold the rest of its 2020 season in Europe after the Russian Grand Prix on Sept. 27.
Three races have been added to this year’s schedule, including one at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit on Oct. 11, the date that had previously been set for the event in Montreal.
The Portimao Grand Prix in Portugal and the Imola Grand Prix will come next on the F1 calendar, meaning that no races will take place in the Americas this year.
11:25 a.m. New rules on wearing masks in England came into effect Friday, with people entering shops, banks and supermarkets now required to wear face coverings, while Romania reported a record for daily infections and new cases nearly doubled in France.
People in England can be fined as much as 100 pounds ($170 Cdn) by police if they refuse. The British government had given mixed signals for weeks before deciding on the policy. Places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers are exempt.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers would be available as a last resort but added that he hopes the public “will continue to do the right thing” to protect other citizens.
In Belgium, health authorities said a three-year old girl has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as new infections surged 89% from the previous week.
11:20 a.m.: Canadian consumers flocked to online shopping as the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.
A new report from the agency found that total retail sales fell by 17.9 per cent as Canadians increasingly sheltered in place between February and May and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors.
Even so, shoppers rushed to make online purchases, with sales surging 99.3 per cent during the period.
Statistics Canada says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February.
11:15 a.m.: Ontario says it was able to complete more than 28,800 tests the previous day.
It also says 141 people are in hospital because of the virus, including 31 people in intensive care and 20 on ventilators.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 27 new COVID-19 cases in Ottawa and 57 new cases in Windsor-Essex.
9:15 a.m.: Hamilton and Niagara are among more regions of Ontario that have moved to Stage 3 reopening.
The easing of anti-COVID measures means indoor dining at a restaurant or drinking in a pub is allowed.
Gyms and movie theatres are also allowed to reopen.
In all cases, physical distancing must be maintained among patrons.
Durham, York, Halton, Haldimand-Norfolk and Lambton are also now in Stage 3.
However, Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex remain in the more restrictive Stage 2.
8:24 p.m. Dogs with a few days of training are capable of identifying people infected with the coronavirus, according to a study by a German veterinary university.
Eight dogs from Germany’s armed forces were trained for only a week and were able to accurately identify the virus with a 94 per cent success rate, according to a pilot project led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Researchers challenged the dogs to sniff out Covid-19 in the saliva of more than 1,000 healthy and infected people.
“We think that this works because the metabolic processes in the body of a diseased patient are completely changed,” Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university, said in a YouTube video about the project. “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell.”
Dogs, which have a sense of smell around 1,000 times more sensitive than humans, could be deployed to detect infections at places such as airports, border crossings and sporting events with the proper training, according to the researchers. The study was conducted jointly with the German armed forces, the Hannover Medical School and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.
Von Koeckritz-Blickwede said that the next step will be to train dogs to differentiate Covid samples from other diseases like influenza.
8 a.m. No one knows exactly why Thailand has been spared.
Is it the social distancing embedded in Thai culture — the habit of greeting others with a wai, a prayerlike motion, rather than a full embrace — that has prevented the runaway transmission of the coronavirus here?
Did Thailand’s early adoption of face masks, combined with a robust health care system, blunt the virus’s impact? Was it the outdoor lifestyle of many Thais or their relatively low rates of pre-existing conditions?
Is there a genetic component in which the immune systems of Thais and others in the Mekong River region are more resistant to the coronavirus? Or is it some alchemy of all these factors that has insulated this country of 70 million people?
One thing is certain. Despite an influx of foreign visitors early in the year from countries badly hit by the coronavirus, Thailand has recorded fewer than 3,240 cases and 58 deaths. As of Thursday, there had been no cases of local transmission for about seven weeks.
7 a.m. The Chinese basketball league is set to allow limited numbers of spectators into games this Sunday before being fully open to fans from July 31 for playoff games in Qingdao.
The Chinese Basketball Association says medical professionals, teachers and police and public security officers will be eligible in the first intake of fans since the league resumed last month following a lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.
The league says fans older than 12 “who have missed the stadium will have the opportunity to enter the Qingdao Guoxin Sports Center Diamond Stadium to cheer for their favourite teams and players” from July 31.
Fans will have to buy tickets through an online registration system on a “one ticket, one certificate” basis within 48 hours of testing negative for COVID-19.
Physical distancing measures will be in place inside the stadium and spectators will have to show identification, wear face masks and undergo body temperature testing before entry.
7 a.m. South Korea says it will allow baseball fans to return to the stands beginning Sunday as health authorities outlined a phased process to bring back spectators in professional sports amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho also says fans will be allowed at professional soccer games starting on Aug. 1. But professional golf tournaments will continue without galleries at least until late August.
Both baseball and soccer teams will be initially allowed to sell only 10% of the seats for each game as officials plan to control the level of attendance based on the progress of anti-virus efforts.
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Spectators will continue to be banned in the city of Gwangju and nearby South Jeolla Province towns.
7 .a.m. Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora says fans will be allowed back into stadiums in September if the virus is kept under control.
Spadafora says “obviously the stadium can’t be filled like before but rather a series of measures currently being studied will need to be respected.”
The Serie A soccer season is being completed without fans and is scheduled end on Aug. 2. Next season should start in mid-September.
6:58 a.m. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dismissed campaigners seeking to oppose vaccinations, describing so-called anti-vaxxers as “nuts.’’
Johnson asked staff at a London medical centre what they thought of anti-vaxxers while adding, “There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts.”
Johnson was touring the east London centre to promote a campaign for flu vaccinations ahead of winter.
The anti-vaccination movement was fueled by a now-discredited article in the medical journal Lancet by Andrew Wakefield, which alleged the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was linked to autism. The article was later retracted and Wakefield lost his medical license.
6:58 a.m. Spain’s farm minister says authorities are pressing agricultural employers to provide decent accommodation and transport for seasonal migrant workers, amid fears that poor living conditions are creating coronavirus hot spots.
Farm Minister Luis Planas said Friday that “infections in rural areas don’t happen on farms or in fields, they happen in transport and accommodation.”
He said that, as in Germany and France, officials are concerned that the movement of tens of thousands seasonal workers spreads COVID-19. He said in an interview with Cadena Ser radio that employers must provide “dignified living conditions.”
Spain’s Health Ministry reported Thursday 971 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours — the country’s biggest daily increase since a lockdown ended.
Planas’ comments came on the same day that a United Nations report demanded that Spain improve the “deplorable” living conditions that some of its seasonal workers endure.
6 a.m.: Belgian health authorities say a 3-year old girl has died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a surge of infections in the country.
The announcement Friday came a day after Belgium decided to reinforce restriction measures to slow the spread of the virus, including mandatory masks in crowded outdoor public spaces.
The girl suffered from several severe associated diseases, according to a statement released by health authorities. She is believed to be the youngest person to die from COVID-19 complications in Belgium after a 12-year-old passed away in March.
Belgium has been hard hit by the coronavirus, with 64,847 cases and 9,812 deaths.
6:00 a.m.: The company that runs a German slaughterhouse that was at the centre of a major outbreak last month says 30 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus in new tests — but most of them were old cases.
Authorities have linked more than 2,000 cases to the outbreak at the Toennies slaughterhouse in the western town of Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, which led last month to a partial lockdown of the surrounding area. Those restrictions have since been lifted and the facility has reopened after a four-week closure.
Toennies spokesman Andre Vierstaedte said Friday that the 30 employees, along with all other workers, were tested on their return to work and sent into quarantine once the results arrived.
The company said that in most cases the employees had previously tested positive for the coronavirus and it was still detectable, news agency dpa reported. In the case of eight employees, it had yet to be determined whether or not they had previously been infected.
4:10 a.m.: The number of asylum claims being filed in Canada continues to rise slightly despite ongoing global travel restrictions.
The latest figures from the Immigration Department show 1,500 claims for refugee status were filed in Canada in June, up from 1,400 in May.
For the first time since April — the first full month of major travel restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 — refugee claims were filed at airports. There were also multiple claims at marine ports.
Also slightly on the rise were the number of people stopped by the RCMP trying to cross irregularly into Canada: 32 in June, up from 21 in May.
Currently, Canada is turning back those who show up at unmarked border crossings, one of several measures being taken at the border in response to the pandemic.
How many people will continue to attempt to enter Canada irregularly may change in the coming months, in the wake of a Federal Court decision Wednesday that the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. violates the charter.
4 a.m. Quebec’s annual two-week construction holiday is in full swing, and with many Quebecers staying closer to home this summer because of COVID-19, towns in the Gaspe region are seeing an influx of tourists drawn to the charming seaside landscapes.
But the mayor of Gaspe, Que., a popular tourist destination on the Gaspe peninsula’s eastern coast, is concerned some visitors are camping anywhere they find space, harming the environment and upsetting locals.
“We’re seeing a lot of tents on public beaches, in forests, on private land without the approval of the owners of that land,” Mayor Daniel Cote said in an interview Thursday.
Cote said he had high hopes tourists would come to the Gaspe this summer despite the pandemic. Authorities had closed off the region to outsiders earlier this year to stop the spread of COVID-19.
But Cote said he was caught off guard by the number of tourists who arrived without hotel or camping reservations. “People invaded public beaches and decided that that’s where they would set up camp,” he said.
4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3 a.m. ET on July 24, 2020:
There are 112,672 confirmed cases in Canada.
_ Quebec: 58,080 confirmed (including 5,662 deaths, 50,505 resolved)
_ Ontario: 38,210 confirmed (including 2,755 deaths, 33,963 resolved)
_ Alberta: 9,975 confirmed (including 176 deaths, 8,506 resolved)
_ British Columbia: 3,392 confirmed (including 190 deaths, 2,898 resolved)
_ Saskatchewan: 1,072 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 838 resolved)
_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,003 resolved)
_ Manitoba: 362 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 319 resolved), 13 presumptive
_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 264 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 259 resolved)
_ New Brunswick: 170 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)
_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 31 resolved)
_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)
_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive
_ Total: 112,672 (15 presumptive, 112,657 confirmed including 8,874 deaths, 98,514 resolved)
2 a.m. A Manitoba Hutterite minister is telling the province to stop identifying colonies where members have tested positive for COVID-19 because it is leading to stigmatization.
Paul Waldner from the CanAm Hutterite Colony in southwest Manitoba sent a letter to Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen Wednesday saying that if the practice was not stopped, he would file a human rights complaint. The correspondence was also sent to media outlets.
“Should the announcements continue, we expect the stigmatization and associated cultural and religious profiling, will only worsen,” Waldner wrote.
Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Brent Roussin said the government has a right to identify clusters and it has not specifically named communities.
There have been reports of discrimination against Hutterites after outbreaks in multiple colonies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
1 a.m.: The first hurricane to threaten the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is presenting new challenges to Hawaii officials long accustomed to tropical storms.
For example, how do you secure enough shelter space when people have to stay at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) apart from one another? What happens when someone shows up at a shelter with a fever?
Late Thursday, Hurricane Douglas was 1,810 kilometres (1,025 miles) southeast of Hilo and packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kph (130 mph).
It’s expected to weaken as it passes over cooler water but meteorologists warn strong winds, heavy rainfall and dangerous surf could afflict the entire state beginning on Sunday.
The storm approaches as Hawaii grapples with increasing COVID-19 numbers. On Thursday, the state reported 55 newly confirmed cases, its highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
Thursday July 23
8 p.m. The government is finalizing back-to-school plans and will announce them next week, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce, pledging that “additional supports and resources” to help with COVID-19 costs will be included.
“Premier (Doug Ford) and the government continues to be focused on a safe, conventional day-to-day return to school … where kids can go to school five days a week,” Lecce said at a press conference Thursday held at a Brampton school gymnasium.
“We’re finalizing the health protocols, working very closely with the chief medical officer, some of the best pediatric minds in the nation that are informing the plan — we believe we’ll be able to unveil it next week — that will include additional supports and resources to enable our boards to succeed.”
While Lecce noted funding for some boards under annual general education grants has gone up for the 2020-21 school year, “I appreciate that there’s more we can do, and the premier has been clear we’ll do whatever it takes to keep our staff and our kids safe in September.”