The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

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

5:40 p.m.

Starbucks is ramping up its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by removing seating from its stores.

The coffee chain says people will still be able to make purchases in-store and online, but they'll be encouraged to take items to go.

It says it's also temporarily closing stores in "high-social gathering locations" such as those in shopping malls and on university campuses.

The chain says workers whose hours will be affected by the pandemic will get "catastrophe pay."

Lush Canada is also temporarily shuttering its stores.

 

5:35 p.m.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Ontario continues to climb.

The government announced three new cases this afternoon, in addition to the 39 announced earlier in the day.

The 42 latest cases bring the provincial tally to 145, with five of those cases classified as resolved.

Ontario currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada.

 

5:15 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is closing all schools until April 6 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move shutters schools for two weeks following the scheduled March break.

The province is also closing licenced child-care centres until further notice, effective immediately.

 

4:40 p.m.

The Ontario government is urging hospitals to postpone all elective surgeries.

Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted that the government is encouraging hospitals to start implementing additional steps in their pandemic plans.

To that end, it says hospitals should start "carefully ramping down" optional surgeries.

Elliott says doing so will allow the facilities to be better able to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

4:15 p.m.

Ontario is closing all casinos as a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says the closures have started going into effect today and should be fully implemented in the next 24 hours.

It does not say when the casinos are expected to reopen.

Ontario has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, with 142 reported as of this morning.

 

4 p.m.

Quebec has announced four more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the provincial total to 39.

The province already announced 11 new cases earlier today.

Premier Francois Legault has ordered the closure of many public gathering places, including bars, movie theatres, and gyms in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

 

3:45 p.m.

Canada's chief public health officer says anyone returning to the country from abroad needs to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

Dr. Theresa Tam says Canadian travellers were previously advised to self-monitor if returning from trips.

But now that the COVID-19 outbreak has been deemed a serious health risk, Tam says stricter measures are necessary to help flatten the curve.

She says messages sharing the new advice are going out to airports across Canada today.

 

3 p.m.

Canada's top public health official says COVID-19 poses a serious health risk to all Canadians and the window to "flatten the curve" is narrow.

Dr. Theresa Tam says Canadians need to act now to curb the spread of the novel form of coronavirus.

She repeated previous government advice to avoid travel outside of Canada, self-isolate for 14 days if returning from a trip abroad, and practise social distancing.

She says employers should look into contingency plans to allow staff to work from home.

 

3:00 p.m.

VIA Rail says it's scaling back service in its corridor from Windsor to Quebec City to comply with government guidelines for social distancing.

The company says it will reduce service by 50 per cent in the busy corridor, which includes routes between Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and London, Ont.

VIA Rail said they already experienced a significant reduction in passenger volume last week.

 

2:30 p.m.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says schools in the province will be temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

He says that although classes are out for March break at the moment, schools and day-care centres will be close for two additional weeks starting March 23.

The announcement comes hours after health authorities reported the province's first three presumptive cases of COVID-19.

 

1:40 p.m.

New Brunswick's top medical official says there are four new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Dr. Jennifer Russell says all the new cases stemmed from New Brunswick's first, travel-related case.

She says the four new people to contract the novel coronavirus were close contacts or family members of the first patient.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the province currently stands at six, with five classified as presumptive and one confirmed.

 

1 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is asking for the closure of public places in the province such as bars, gyms, libraries and movie theatres.

He says restaurants can stay open but are being asked to limit the number of clients to 50 per cent capacity.

Legault says Quebecers should only leave home if they're going to work, buying food and essentials, helping the elderly and spending time outdoors.

 

12:25 p.m.

Quebec is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 35.

They include two new cases in the Quebec City region, two in Mauricie - Centre du Quebec and two in the Monteregie region, southeast of Montreal.

One case was a non-resident who was tested in the province.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is expected to provide more details at 1 p.m.

 

12:05 p.m.

The Ontario government is planning to table a bill aimed at helping workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

A statement from Premier Doug Ford's office says the new bill will direct employers to offer protected leave for people affected by the pandemic.

It will also waive the requirement for employees to obtain sick notes if they need to go into self-isolation or care for anyone in quarantine.

The government did not immediately say when the bill would come before the legislature.

 

12 p.m.

Manitoba officials have announced three additional presumptive cases of COVID-19.

A man in his 70s and two women, one in her 50s and one in her 70s, have tested positive.

The total in Manitoba is now seven.

 

11:30 a.m.

Nova Scotia has confirmed its first three presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Public health officials say the individuals have been notified and are in self-isolation.

The province says all three cases are related to travel.

 

11:20

Ontario is reporting 39 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Government figures suggest the majority of the cases are concentrated in southern Ontario.

The total number of cases in the province currently stands at 142, with five classified as resolved.

 

11:10 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hasn't been tested for COVID-19 on the advice of public health officials.

In an interview with CTV's Question Period, Trudeau says he's not showing any symptoms of the illness.

He says officials are urging people in his position not to get tested, and so he would prefer to see testing kits reserved for people who are showing symptoms.

Trudeau's wife, Sophie, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday after she returned from a trip to London, U.K.

 

11 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says nothing is off the table when it comes to the next phase of Canada's response to the spread of COVID-19.

Trudeau tells CTV's Question Period that a discussion about border closures or mandatory screening of all returning travellers will be part of a cabinet meeting today.

Travellers returning to Canada have reported long lines at airports with minimal precautions being taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Trudeau says Canada Border Services Agency is bringing in new measures but did not provide details.

 

10:10 a.m.

The president of France says all G-7 leaders will be holding a meeting to co-ordinate an economic response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Emmanuel Macron announced the planned teleconference in a tweet, but did not offer further details.

Canada is part of the G-7, along with the United States, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Germany.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not made any statements about a G-7 leaders' meeting.

 

10 a.m.

A fundraiser for hourly employees at the Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome has raised more than $39,000 after the venue owner told hourly staff they won't be paid for shifts lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raymond Lau, who started the fundraiser, is criticizing Calgary Sports and Entertainment for not paying employees when other sports organizations are doing so.

Flames players Milan Lucic, Sam Bennett and Zac Rinaldo, along with the wives of players TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, have contributed to the Calgary fundraiser so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Canadian Press