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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada


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

11:05 p.m.

The president of the Treasury Board of Ontario says he developed mild symptoms associated with COVID-19 over the weekend and has been tested.

Peter Bethlenfalvy says in a tweet today that he has been in isolation since developing the symptoms and is working from home.

He says he will release the results of the test when they come in.

Ontario reported 43 new COVID-19 cases today -- the largest single-day increase -- bringing the total in the province to 257.


10:45 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office says he spoke with the premier of Prince Edward Island today about CBC's decision to scrap most local TV newscasts.

A statement about Trudeau's conversation with Dennis King says both leaders agreed that people from P.E.I. deserve access to local coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PMO says Trudeau committed to having the minister responsible speak to the CBC to explore options for Islanders "given these extraordinary circumstances."

The CBC temporarily scrapped most of its local TV newscasts to consolidate resources at CBC News Network amid the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday.

King said afterward he planned to ask Trudeau to reverse the decision.


9:55 p.m.

A group of people may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus at the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says one or more people who were at Whistler between March 8 and 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

It is asking people who were in the area between those dates to self-isolate and watch for symptoms.


9:05 p.m.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott says she has returned to the front line to help combat COVID-19.

Philpott, who was a family physician before she became involved in politics, says she is helping the team at Markham Stouffville Hospital in Ontario in the COVID-19 assessment centre.

She represented the riding of Markham-Stouffville in the House of Commons before she was defeated in the 2019 federal election.

In a picture posted on Twitter Philpott is wearing protective clothing and a face shield.

She is urging people to use a self-assessment tool if they have virus symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms.


8:55 p.m.

Cirque du Soleil has announced company-wide layoffs as COVID-19 continues to hurt the economy.

A statement from the president of the entertainment group says the staff reductions, which impact 95 per cent of its 4,679-member workforce, are temporary.

Daniel Lamarre says the decision was a necessary measure to stabilize the company for the future.

He says cities and countries where the group performs have legislated the closure of public gatherings of more than 250 people to help stop the spread of COVID-19, which resulted in a call for a halt in activity.


6:20 p.m.

A local public health authority says four of Ontario's COVID-19 patients live in the same long-term care home.

The Durham Region Health Department says two men and two women diagnosed with the virus live at the Hillsdale Terraces care home east of Toronto.

The women are 80 and 92 years old, while the men are 68 and 71 years old.

The health department says they're in isolation at the care home.


6:16 p.m.

Quebec mining company Agnico Eagle has decided to send home its Nunavut-based work force from the two gold mines it operates in south central Nunavut.

All local workers on site will be returned home and those off-site will not return.

These employees will continue to be paid.

The move is being made to eliminate the possibility of Nunavut workers being infected by those flying in from the south.

As yet, Nunavut has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The mines will continue to operate with remaining staff.


6 p.m.

British Columbia has recorded an eighth death from COVID-19.

Health Minister Adiran Dix says the death stems from the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where six other deaths have been recorded.

He says the province has 40 new cases, bringing the total in B.C. to 271.

Seventeen patients have been hospitalized for treatment of the new coronavirus, and nine people are being treated in intensive care units.

Dix also announced that the province is waiving waiting periods for people who are waiting to qualify for medical service plan insurance.


5:55 p.m.

Alberta has recorded its first death from COVID-19.

Chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the man who died was in his 60s and had underlying health conditions.

She says it appears he contracted the virus in the community and not through travel.

Alberta is reporting 27 new cases of the infection for a total of 146.


5:08 p.m.

The federal government is suspending its passport services until further notice.

Canadians will only be able to obtain or renew passports if they need to travel for urgent reasons.

This includes serious illness, the death of friend or family member, humanitarian work or would otherwise lose a job or business.

Service Canada says anyone who does not meet the criteria for urgent travel – or is experiencing symptoms such as a fever, coughing, having trouble breathing – will have to wait.

So would anyone who is in self-isolation.

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen says that with travel restrictions in place, Service Canada needs to focus on assisting Canadians with issues that are currently the most critical.


4:30 p.m.

Dr. Allan Woo, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, says he tested positive last night for the novel coronavirus.

He says in a statement that he believes he contracted the virus last week at an Edmonton curling bonspiel attended by doctors from across Western Canada.

Woo says physicians are not invincible and the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic are far too real.


4 p.m.

Vancouver council has voted unanimously in favour of a motion to declare a state of emergency in the city.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart told councillors he decided to move forward with the motion after police identified "over 20" bars and restaurants that defied an order to close on St. Patrick's Day.

The order was issued to prevent large gatherings and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Stewart says he has since learned of many more businesses that have flaunted orders against large gatherings and says the bylaw gives the city the power to take things "a step further" if violations continue.


3:11 p.m.

The Saskatchewan government says the province has four more presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the current total to 20.

The Ministry of Health says three out of the four new infections are related to travel, with the last being a close contact of a previously reported case.

It says no one has been admitted into hospital because of the virus, but one of the 20 cases is in hospital for an unrelated medical reason while everyone else is in self-isolation.


2:20 p.m.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has been tested for COVID-19 after experiencing flu like symptoms following a trip.

Champagne tweeted today that the test is "out of an abundance of caution" and said he is self-isolating at home.


2:17 p.m.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has declared a state of emergency to help the province stop the spread of COVID-19 because he says too few citizens were following orders to avoid public gatherings.

Higgs told a news conference today that all public schools, universities and colleges will remain closed until further notice and all non-essential retail businesses must cease admitting the public effective immediately.

The premier says grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor and cannabis stores operated by the province, post offices, gas stations and hardware stores can remain open, adding that restaurants can only offer take-out.

Higgs says his directives are no longer suggestions, and all citizens, under law, must comply.


1:43 p.m.

Quebec is reporting 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases today, up from 94 the day before, with seven people in hospital.

The government is asking people to stick close to home and not travel to other parts of the province unless necessary.

Premier Francois Legault says the province wants to limit travel as the province is monitoring the situation region by region.

The province's health authorities say 11 out of 17 regions of the province now have confirmed cases.


1:30 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health reported no new cases of COVID-19 today, but one of the three presumptive cases was confirmed positive.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says 684 people in the province have been tested and 681 have been confirmed negative.

She says public health is monitoring 276 people who are in self-isolation.


12:40 p.m.

A local public health unit is reporting Ontario's second COVID-19-related death.

Halton Region Public Health says a man in his 50s died after receiving treatment at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and Milton District Hospital.

The agency says he had an underlying health condition.

Ontario reported its first COVID-19-related death earlier in the week — a 77-year-old man in the Muskoka region.


12:40 p.m.

PEI has its second confirmed case of COVID-19 in a man in his 40s.

Health officials say the man had been travelling in the United kingdom and is now self-isolating at home.


12:15 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says all asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S. at Roxham Road will be temporarily housed beginning tomorrow.

Freeland says this is to ensure they are all quarantined for 14 days just as everyone else coming into Canada from the U.S. and other countries should do.

Freeland says she spoke to Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel, as well as all provincial premiers, about the issue.


12:10 p.m.

The body that handles transit in British Columbia outside the Lower Mainland is eliminating fares and altering boarding procedures in two major cities in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

BC Transit says passengers in Nanaimo and Victoria will be asked to board by the rear doors and won't have to pay fares for the next 30 days

The move, similar to those enacted in several other Canadian cities, creates a greater social distance between passengers and drivers, seniors and the disabled at the front of the bus.

TransLink, which operates buses, the SeaBus and SkyTrain across Metro Vancouver has not announced similar measures but said last week that it was stepping up cleaning and disinfection across its fleet.


11:20 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says experts are telling his government to expect social-distancing measures to remain in place here for several weeks — or months.

He also says he spoke with leaders at Air Canada and WestJet on Wednesday about finding ways to help Canadians stranded overseas come home.

Trudeau says he also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this morning about co-ordinating efforts to help Canadians in other countries and also plans to speak to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven today.

He says the government is working with telecommunications companies to send text messages to Canadians abroad to let them known about consular services available.


11:15 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he expects the Canada-U.S. border to shut down for non-essential travellers sometime overnight between Friday and Saturday.

He says the federal government is still working out the details of the agreement with the United States.


11:15 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 14.

The total includes five confirmed cases and nine presumptive cases.

Health officials say the two new cases were identified on Wednesday and both are travel-related.

The 14 individuals affected range in age from early 30's to mid-70's.


10:50 a.m.

The government of Nunavut is asking students receiving financial assistance to study in southern institutions to stay there.

The territory is informing students it won't be booking travel home for them until further notice in order to avoid unnecessary travel and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Students who receive funding will continue to receive it for as long as they are away from home.


10:36 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 43 new COVID-19 cases today.

That brings the total cases in the province to 257, including one death and five resolved cases.

One of the new patients, a man in his 80s in Durham Region, is hospitalized.

But information on whether people are self-isolating or hospitalized, their ages and regions, as well as how they were infected, is listed as "pending" for more than half of the new cases.


8:45 a.m.

British Columbia's Municipal Affairs Ministry has cancelled three municipal byelections and a referendum in four communities around the province as part of efforts to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus.

A statement from the ministry says it has scrubbed byelections set for Victoria and Rossland on April 4, a referendum in Kamloops on the same day and a byelection slated for Lytton on April 25.

None of the votes have been rescheduled.

The ministry says public health and local government officials asked for the postponements to ensure voters don't gather in polling stations, and to free up local resources to focus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


7:45 a.m.

The Toronto Transit Commission says one of their employees has tested positive for COVID-19.

The agency says the employee worked at a TTC maintenance workshop for buses.

It says between 130 and 170 employees are in self-isolation as a result.

The TTC says the employee worked one shift on March 11 after returning from vacation.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said all regions of Quebec now have confirmed cases.