Travellers returning to Canada from abroad are facing a new order requiring them to self-isolate, the latest measure from a government trying to deal with both a rise in COVID-19 cases and the growing economic fallout.
The measure, which makes some exceptions for health-care workers and truckers, allows for fines and even jail times for people who ignore the order to stay home.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said on Twitter that people coming into Canada at ports of entry will be asked to make a declaration.
<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>: Under the new Order for MANDATORY <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SelfIsolation?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SelfIsolation</a> that will be fully implemented by <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CBSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CBSA</a> at ports of entry by midnight tonight, anyone entering Canada by air, land or marine must declare to a CBSA border services officer: <a href=”https://t.co/TSO9HvGdWB”>pic.twitter.com/TSO9HvGdWB</a>
“We are implementing the Quarantine Act to keep all Canadians safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, calling decisions by some to ignore the call to self-isolate for two weeks “disappointing” and “dangerous.”
When asked why the quarantine measure wasn’t introduced sooner, Trudeau said “the vast majority” of Canadians have been following public health guidelines and taking the precautions necessary to protect themselves and others. But, he said, “there have been too many people who have not,” which required the use of a rule with enforcement measures.
WATCH | Trudeau addresses new self-isolation rule for incoming travellers:
Speaking outside his home at Rideau Cottage on Thursday, Trudeau said his government, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and the country’s premiers had all been clear that people needed to follow the call for a 14-day quarantine when entering Canada. But given that some travellers were not self-isolating, tougher measures were needed, he said.
Contact information will be collected from incoming travellers when they pass through the border for followup, which could include random checks to ensure they are complying with the quarantine.
Tam said at a briefing Thursday that any incoming traveller who is sick will be immediately isolated. People who are seriously ill will be sent to hospital and those with less severe symptoms who can safely go directly home are allowed to do so.
“A quarantine order is put on them; we of course follow them in collaboration with local public health.”
People with symptoms who can’t get home will be housed in a location serving as a federal quarantine, Tam said.
Tam says some people have already be placed in federal quarantine facilities. “There are very, very few people,” she says. A couple at Que. crossing, a truck driver, someone who came through the Vancouver airport.
People who are asymptomatic are allowed to go home with an order to get there “as fast as possible” and stay put.
The government will do random checks on the asymptomatic people, in collaboration with local public health, through measures like phone calls, Tam said. She said the use of the Quarantine Act is a “serious reminder” of the need for self-isolation for returning travellers — and reiterated the possibility of “hefty penalties,” including fines and even jail time.
During the same briefing, Tam provided what she called “a snapshot of the severity” of COVID-19 in Canada. She said roughly six per cent of cases require hospitalization, 2.6 per cent are critical and one per cent are fatal.
“The fact that Canada’s fatality rate is at one per cent indicates that the health-care system is not currently overwhelmed, but these fatalities could be reduced further by preventing illness in our most vulnerable populations,” she said.
WATCH | Canada’s chief public health officer warns young people are also at risk for COVID-19:
U.S. looking to arm the border
The number of confirmed cases in the United States jumped to more than 82,000 Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins, making it the hardest-hit country in the world in terms of reported cases.
Also Thursday, both Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed Global News reports that the U.S.is considering putting soldiers near the Canadian border to intercept illegal migrants because of concerns related to COVID-19, despite the fact that Canada has just over 4,000 reported cases.
“Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we’ve made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts,” Freeland told reporters during a daily noon-hour briefing.
According to a source with knowledge of the White House proposal, no decision has been made yet.
“We had some troops up in Canada, but I’ll find out about that,” said U.S. President Donald Trump when asked about the proposal during an evening task force briefing in Washington.
He went on to say that the U.S. does, in fact, have troops along the border with Canada to help keep illegal trade from entering the U.S.
Canada and the U.S. have the longest unmilitarized border in the world. Earlier in the day, Trudeau told reporters, “it is very much in both of our of interests for it to remain that way.”
‘We need to work together’
Prior to his daily briefing Thursday, the prime minister spoke with leaders of the G20 nations via video conference and said they agreed that co-ordinated efforts are needed to protect people’s health and the economy — though Trudeau did not detail exactly how that effort would unfold.
“We need to work together to have an impact that goes beyond our borders,” he said, noting that there’s a need to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, not just in Canada.
Trudeau also spoke about a temporary program his government unveiled Wednesday, as well as a plan to temporarily increase the Canada Child Benefit beginning in May. The government says the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is designed to get money into the hands of people who are losing income because of the pandemic. The CERB collapses two previously announced programs into one in a bid to streamline the process of applying for the funding, which will provide eligible workers $2,000 a month for four months.
Meanwhile, the number of new cases in Italy grew by more than 6,000, pushing the worldwide total to more than half a million, based on a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, with nearly 23,000 deaths. The dashboard, which draws data from a range of sources — including the World Health Organization and national health departments — lists the number of cases that are recovered or resolved at almost 115,000.
Spain’s death toll has risen above 3,400, eclipsing that of China, where the virus was first detected in December, and is now second only to that of Italy, which has 7,500 deaths. Lidia Perera, a nurse at Madrid’s 1,000-bed Hospital de la Paz, said more workers were desperately needed. “We are collapsing,” she said.
The novel coronavirus, which has been labelled SARS-CoV-2, was first reported in China in late 2019. The virus causes an illness called COVID-19. It causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. There are no proven treatments or vaccines, but researchers around the world are looking for both.
China temporarily barring most foreigners
Mainland China reported a second consecutive day of no new local infections as Hubei province opened its borders, but imported cases rose.
China announced late Thursday that it is temporarily barring all foreign nationals from entry starting Saturday, as it seeks to curb the number of imported COVID-19 cases.
Diplomatic workers will be exempt, while foreign nationals coming to China for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can still apply for visas, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada and the United States.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday, there were more than 4,000 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with 39 deaths and 228 cases listed as recovered or resolved. (Not all provinces are listing details about recoveries.) One Canadian has also died abroad, in Japan.
For a detailed look at the latest numbers, visit CBC’s coronavirus case tracker.
British Columbia released a list Thursday of essential and non-essential services, in light of the provincial state of emergency. The province defines essential services as “essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.” Non-essential services can only stay open if they can demonstrate they are complying with public health orders. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
B.C. banning resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other essential supplies. Government also restricting the number of items that people can buy in order to maintain consistent supply. Updates at this link: <a href=”https://t.co/T4EkcCvyE0″>https://t.co/T4EkcCvyE0</a>
Alberta, which has granted power to law enforcement agencies to enforce public-health orders, reported cases in two residents and a worker at a group home for adults with disabilities. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said: “Over the past two days, despite the aggressive measures already in place, it’s become clear that additional measures are needed.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, including information on a long-term care home in Calgary with six confirmed cases.
Saskatchewan is expanding the list of businesses that need to close during the COVID-19 outbreak. The province is also lowering the number of people permitted at a public gathering to 10, down from 25. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, including a plan in Regina to get bagged lunches to kids who are not in class because of school closures.
Manitoba’s top public health officer says the province is expanding its criteria for COVID-19 testing. Dr. Brent Roussin says all symptomatic health-care workers and people who live or work in remote communities, group settings and First Nations will be tested. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba and get details on how COVID-19 testing works in the province.
Ontario reported 170 new cases on Thursday, its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases to date. The province says it will ramp up its capacity to conduct approximately 18,900 COVID-19 tests a day by mid-April. It currently does 3,000 COVID-19 tests daily, and will increase to 5,000 later this week. There is currently a testing backlog of nearly 11,000 cases, which the province hopes to have cleared by early next week. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec reported a total of 1,629 confirmed cases Thursday, including eight deaths. The province’s director of public health urged people to be honest about travel history and who they have been in contact with. “By not collaborating, you are preventing us from doing an investigation that allows us to help people,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick is increasing testing, but still lags behind neighbouring Nova Scotia because of problems earlier in the outbreak. “I want to assure the public New Brunswick is testing more people more widely as the situation evolves,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick, where a high school that sits empty during class cancellation is being used to help the homeless.
WATCH | Fredericton high school housing homeless during outbreak:
In Nova Scotia, the premier said a new case in the province could be linked to a St. Patrick’s day gathering. Stephen McNeil said it is a reminder of why it is crucial to avoid socializing. “I’m not trying to scare you, I’m actually trying to convince you [that] when we say, ‘Stop gathering and stay home,’ we mean it,” he said. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
Prince Edward Island reported four new cases Thursday, bringing its total to nine, and all four were linked to recent international travel. The province has closed a transition facility for people with addictions as part of its fight against the coronavirus. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the medical officer of health said the province will move ahead with testing for asymptomatic people who have been in contact with people who have COVID-19. “This is to make sure that we find as many positive people as we can and putting in the appropriate measures to reduce spread,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including the re-arrest of a woman police allege twice violated an isolation order.
In the North, education leaders in the Northwest Territories are recommending schools close for the rest of the academic year. And in Whitehorse, a new testing centre is open for people with “mild to moderate” respiratory symptoms. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North.
WATCH | Canadian stuck in Peru worried about his health:
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 6 p.m. ET
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose to 82,404 on Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins tally. That is more than any other country, overtaking both Italy and China. At the same time, the U.S. death toll topped 1,100, while hospitals and government authorities in New York, New Orleans and other hot spots grappled with a dire shortage of supplies, staff and sick beds.
Medical facilities reported a lack of ventilators and protective masks, as a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University showed that at least 1,178 people in the U.S. have died. In a news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged issues with the distribution of protective equipment after he was asked about health-care workers in New York City using plastic trash bags to protect themselves. In New Orleans, Louisiana officials said they are considering housing patients in hotels and a convention centre.
Jobless claims in the U.S. soared to a record 3.3 million on Thursday, more than nearly five times the previous weekly record. The report may understate the problem as the official statistics typically have not included the self-employed or independent contractors. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. already “may well be in recession.”
A modicum of relief will come when the $2 trillion US aid package in Congress passes. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expects to see it approved in a strong bipartisan vote on Friday, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Americans should receive direct deposits within three weeks of the bill becoming law.
To help businesses cope, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement they will ease back on enforcement, following requests by the energy industry and other sectors. Also, Wall Street saw its strongest three-day growth since the 1930s, with the Dow Jones’ increase of 21 per cent since Monday establishing it as a bull market by some definitions.
Despite the economic pain, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said in an interview that it is listening to pandemic experts, with the first priority limiting the spread of the virus in the country. He expects the economy to recover in the second half of the year, though White House pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday that the novel coronavirus is so unpredictable at this point, there could be an uptick in cases again next winter.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon will only provide broad statistics on coronavirus numbers within the military, to prevent enemies from knowing about specific clusters. The U.S. air force and navy told Reuters the vast majority of their cases are of personnel who are stationed domestically.
New York state is the epicentre of the domestic outbreak in the U.S., accounting for more than 30,000 cases and close to 300 deaths, most of them in New York City.
A makeshift morgue was set up outside the city’s Bellevue Hospital, and the local police, their ranks dwindling as more fall ill, were told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing.
Here’s what’s happening in Italy, Spain and some other areas of Europe struggling with COVID-19
From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
In Spain, the coronavirus death toll rose to 4,145 on Thursday, up from 3,434 on Wednesday. Spain’s coronavirus lockdown was extended on Thursday to last until at least April 12 as the country struggled to tackle a fast increase in the death toll. In Madrid, Spain’s worst-affected region, hearses continued to arrive at the city’s ice rink, which was converted into a makeshift morgue after authorities said existing facilities lacked resources.
“It is not easy to extend the state of emergency,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in parliament. “I am convinced the only efficient option against the virus is social isolation.”
Cases in Italy grew by more than 6,000 on Thursday, pushing the worldwide total beyond 500,000 and dashing hopes that the epidemic might be in retreat. Officials said 712 people died of the illness in the last 24 hours, pushing the total tally to 8,215, over double that seen anywhere else in the world. The relentless rise in Italy is despite stringent lockdown measures introduced progressively since Feb. 23 to try to stop the spread, which authorities had hoped would be having more of an effect by now.
Germany has increased its ability to test for the virus to 500,000 a week, which the head of the country’s Robert Koch disease control centre says is the highest worldwide, both in absolute numbers and per capita. Germany has reported more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19 but just 239 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins tally. The relatively low death toll has widely been attributed to early and aggressive testing, among other factors.
Some lockdown measures in the U.K., which significantly restrict the social interactions of Britons, could last up to six months, Britain’s deputy chief medical officer said on Thursday. “That would not be an implausible outcome,” Jenny Harries said at a news conference, while adding that the steps already in place have begun to show results. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak called the U.K.’s economic intervention “one of the most significant” by any government ever, while noting there are still challenging times ahead.
France has begun evacuating its citizens infected with the coronavirus from the Alsace epicentre on board a special medicalized high-speed train. France’s health minister said that the TGV train-turned-hospital is a “first in Europe.” Around 20 patients were being evacuated from Strasbourg to hospitals in the Pays-de-la-Loire and other regions Thursday morning, thanks to the medical locomotive. It consists of five cars, each one kitted out with medical material and attended by an anesthesiologist-resuscitator, an intern, a nurse anesthetist and three nurses. The train has been employed to relieve the French region worst hit by the coronavirus that has already claimed nearly 1,700 lives in France — though that number only includes those dying in hospitals. Nearly 3,375 people in the country are also in need of life support due to the coronavirus, French public health officials reported on Thursday.
Sweden saw a surge in the number of deaths that could change the Scandinavian country’s rather lax approach to keeping primary and elementary schools, restaurants and bars open and even encouraging people to go out and enjoy the spring sun. Health officials have within the past 24 hours seen an increase of 18 deaths since Wednesday, bringing the total to 62 deaths in the country of 10 million. Some 2,510 people have tested positive, of which 176 are in intensive care.
The head of Stockholm’s health service, Bjorn Eriksson, said “the storm is over us,” hours after Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden told a news conference that the situation was “stable.”
In neighbouring Denmark, the response has been much more swift. The government restricted public assembly to 10 or fewer people, closed its borders, and has ordered the closure of schools, universities, daycare centres, restaurants, cafes, libraries, gyms and hair salons. And in Finland, the government said it will in an exceptional move block the movement of citizens into and out of a key southern region that includes the Nordic nation’s capital, Helsinki, to prevent the spreading of coronavirus to other areas. The Uusimaa region includes Helsinki and the move affects the daily lives of some 1.7 million people, nearly a third of Finland’s population.
Here’s what’s happening around the world, including Iran and South Korea
From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
Iran started an intercity travel ban, a day after Tehran warned the country might face a second outbreak. Meanwhile, the United States blacklisted five Iran- and Iraq-based companies and 15 individuals on Thursday for supporting terrorist groups, its third round of sanctions on Iranian targets in the last two weeks even as Tehran battles the coronavirus outbreak. Iran has reported 2,234 deaths and 29,406 infections so far.
South Korea’s central bank says it will temporarily provide an “unlimited” amount of money to eligible banks and other financial institutions for three months through repurchase agreements as it tries to calm financial markets rattled by the global coronavirus crisis. The country has 9,241 reported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, with 132 deaths. The country warned it would deport foreigners while its citizens could face jail if they violate self-quarantine rules after a surge in imported cases.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened a coronavirus task force meeting, instructing all 47 prefectural leaders to plan contingency measures to fight the virus in response to assessments that the coronavirus is now rampant in the country. The task force is backed by a special law passed this month that allows Abe to declare a state of emergency, though top officials say such a declaration is not planned immediately. Japan has about 2,000 cases, including 259 in Tokyo.
India, which is under a strict lockdown for a three-week period, announced a $22.6-billion US economic stimulus plan providing direct cash transfers and food security measures to give relief to millions of low-income residents.
WATCH | Canadians stuck in India as country goes into lockdown:
Bangladesh is deploying soldiers and police to enforce a nationwide 10-day shutdown to slow the spread of the virus. Experts say Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, is at high risk of increased infections because hundreds of thousands of overseas Bangladeshi workers have returned home in recent weeks from Italy and other virus-affected nations. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the country’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said five more cases of the virus were confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 44, including five deaths.
In South Africa, officials identified quarantine sites across the country on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 709. Ethiopia’s government told G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs in a call ahead of Thursday’s summit that Africa needs a $150 billion emergency financing package due to the impact of the virus.
The Indonesian government reported 20 new deaths in the previous 24 hours. That brings the country’s death toll in the COVID-19 outbreak to 78, the highest in the Southeast Asia region.
In Brazil, the country’s governors are defying President Jair Bolsonaro over his call to reopen schools and businesses, dismissing his argument that the “cure” of widespread shutdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus is worse than the disease. Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld virus mitigation plans that had been challenged by Bolsonaro. As of Thursday, the country had more than 2,550 cases and 59 deaths.