Long-term care homes in Canada saw an uptick of deaths and infections on Sunday, prompting concern from health officials and investigations from police.
With outbreaks in dozens of facilities, deaths in Ontario’s long-term care homes account for close to half the coronavirus-related fatalities in the province.
In Toronto, officials said on Sunday that five residents of Chartwell Gibson Long-term Care Residence have died. There are also 22 residents with positive cases and one positive staff member with COVID-19 identified, spokesperson Sharon Ranalli said in an email to CBC News.
In the Hamilton region, 13 people have died and more than half the residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville. Additionally, the 101-bed long-term care is struggling to fill shifts since 30 staff also have COVID-19.
Workers at a residence for people with disabilities in Markham, Ont., walked out on Thursday when they were told of an outbreak there.
These outbreaks are a “sad shame, occurring in homes with the “most vulnerable individuals in our society” who need expert care, said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health and University Health Network in Toronto.
COVID-19 can get into long-term care homes and spread partly because of staff can’t always get a full-time position and have to work at more than one facility, he told CBC News on Sunday.
It’s asking a lot of these workers to be at risk for COVID-19 themselves, he said.
“When you’re working for minimum wage, when you don’t have sick benefits, to a certain extent you can appreciate why some workers didn’t want to put themselves in the line of fire.”
In Montreal, police are investigating the owners of a privately run nursing home after news that 31 patients died at the facility since mid-March.
At least five of the deceased residents had contracted COVID-19, Quebec Premier François Legault revealed on Saturday. He promised a thorough public investigation into Résidence Herron in Dorval, where nurses spoke out on Saturday about conditions inside the home.
They said residents were left in unsanitary conditions. They also said many went unfed and without water for more than 24 hours, because staff were failing to show up.
“It’s going to be a long-term investigation” with a review of camera footage, said Montreal police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.
WATCH | Deaths at Montreal long-term care home put spotlight on elder care in Canada:
In Calgary, officials reported two new deaths at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre on Sunday, bringing the total toll of residents who died at the home up to 20. In Halifax, the Northwood seniors home on Sunday reported four news cases, bringing the total number of infections to 23.
Confirmed infections have reached about 1.7 million worldwide, including more than 100,000 deaths, while the number of cases surpassed half a million in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University count.
Health officials have projected that 11,000 Canadians would die over the course of the pandemic if 2.5 per cent of the population was infected. The number that might be as high as 22,000 if the infection rate hit five per cent of the population.
All the projections are “highly sensitive” to behaviours, said Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam, as health officials outlined models with strict measures as well as offering a glimpse into what might have happened without controls.
Public health officials have urged people to stay home, avoid large gatherings and keep up physical distancing, handwashing and other measures.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been posting updated information about the virus, says that COVID-19 is a “serious health threat.” The agency says that risk varies between communities but notes that the overall risk to Canadians is “considered high.”
Record oil production cut
The OPEC cartel and other oil producers agreed Sunday to cut crude production by at least a tenth of global supply — an unprecedented move to stabilize the market, according to several energy officials who participated in the talks — in response to destroyed demand for fuel and driven down oil prices caused by the pandemic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman all support the deal, which would see global crude output cut by 9.7 million barrels a day, the Kremlin said Sunday.
Mexico’s energy minister said on Twitter that the cuts will begin May 1.
WATCH | G20 energy ministers strike pact to achieve stable oil price:
Energy officials from other countries shared similar information, confirming the cut for May and June.
The biggest cut to oil output ever, the countries will keep gradually decreasing curbs on production in place for two years until April 2022.
Canada and Norway had signalled their willingness to cut, but as of Friday, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Canada had yet to promise any specific production cuts.
Trudeau praises Canadians for staying home at Easter
The spread of the novel coronavirus, first reported in China in late 2019, continues as Christians around the globe mark Easter Sunday, with church leaders offering services online amid restrictions on gathering in pews.
Prime Minister Trudeau and other leaders across the country are taking a rare day off from updating the nation on the pandemic as Canadians celebrate Easter.
In a written message marking the day, which comes nearly one month after the country started locking down to slow the spread of COVID-19, Trudeau commemorated the personal sacrifice and compassion that many Canadians are exhibiting during the pandemic.
This weekend is a chance for all of us to reflect on what matters, and to think about where we are. I know this hasn’t been easy, but I also know that we’ll get through this together. And this long weekend, that’s my message to you. Watch my daily update below. <a href=”https://t.co/41vlutRJzi”>pic.twitter.com/41vlutRJzi</a>
“We are seeing great displays of personal sacrifice and compassion during this pandemic. Canadians are protecting their friends and families by staying home. Others are donating to food banks, picking up groceries for friends and loved ones, and going to their jobs so we can continue to get the essential goods and services we need. By doing this, Canadians are showing the true meaning of loving our neighbours as ourselves,” he said.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in a largely empty St. Peter’s Basilica and called for solidarity the world over to confront the “epochal challenge” posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of Sunday evening, Canada had more than 24,000 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. The provinces and territories that provide data on recovered cases listed more than 7,100 as resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths, which is based on public health information and reporting, lists 760 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, as well as two coronavirus-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.
In British Columbia, a man is apologizing after facing backlash over a video of him appearing to spit on a condo elevator in Vancouver’s Olympic Village neighbourhood. “The incident occurred as a result of a momentary fit of anger resulting from an ongoing dispute with the strata council in the building where I own a unit,” said the unidentified man in a press release from his lawyer. He goes on to say he has no health issues related to COVID-19. The Vancouver Police Department said it is not investigating the matter as there was no criminal element involved. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported two new deaths on Sunday at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary. A total of 20 residents have died at the home since the outbreak began last month. Read more about what’s happening in the province.
In Saskatchewan, the number of recovered cases continues to outpace the number of active cases. On Sunday 164 cases were listed as recovered, while 130 cases were listed as active. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 count dropped by one on Sunday, when the province announced no new cases and deemed a probable case a false positive. The case ruled out wasn’t the first false positive in the province — on March 23, a probable positive case was ruled out by health officials as a false positive and on April 5, the province’s chief public health officer announced the test that said a worker at a nursing home had COVID-19 was also a false positive. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
WATCH | Can COVID-19 be spread by talking?
The Ontario government on Sunday urged people to stay home on Easter. “This year, Easter celebrations will be different due to the pandemic,” Premier Doug Ford said in an Easter greetings statement on Sunday morning. “Please think of our seniors and those facing hard times, and consider reaching out or dropping off necessities for them.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory called on police to issue more physical distancing tickets after reports people were not staying two metres apart in public.
Emergency orders remain in place until April 23. That means the continued closure of amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price-gouging. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
WATCH | Toronto police crack down on physical distancing rulebreakers:
Quebec Premier François Legault says health officials in the province only discovered late in the week that 31 residents of a nursing home in Dorval had died since mid-March, and that at least five of them had contracted COVID-19. He said the owners of the home kept information from the government when it reached out to investigate staffing difficulties.
Nurses say residents at CHSLD Herron were left unfed and untended, with full diapers and soiled beds. Legault said the home’s owner refused to provide the patients’ files to the government until Friday night. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
Prince Edward Island has not reported any new cases since April 8. Despite that, Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders to “stay the course” over the Easter weekend and continue to practise physical distancing. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
New Brunswick reported two new cases on Sunday, both in the Saint John region. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell reminded people that the small increase in the number of cases and the large number of recoveries is a good thing, but should not make them complacent. “Staying home will save lives,” she said. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia reported 17 new cases on Sunday, including four in a Halifax senior residence. There are now 23 cases at the complex, including eight residents, nine staff, two health-services staff and four home-care workers. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new confirmed case on Sunday, in the Eastern Health region, bringing the total number to 214, including three deaths. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
In Canada’s North, the Yukon government is offering financial assistance for eligible businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the measures to fight it. In the northern Quebec region of Nunavik, officials reported a sixth case. Nunavut is the only province or territory in Canada without any reported cases. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the United States
The United States’ top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the economy in parts of the U.S. could have a “rolling re-entry” as early as next month, provided health authorities can quickly identify and isolate people who become infected with the coronavirus.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he “can’t guarantee” that it will be safe for Americans to vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Rather than flipping a switch to reopen the entire country, Fauci said a gradual process will be required based on the status of the pandemic in various parts of the U.S. and the availability of rapid, widespread testing. Once the number of people who are seriously ill sharply declines, officials can begin to “think about a gradual re-entry of some sort of normality, some rolling re-entry,” Fauci said.
Trump is eager to restart the economy, which has stalled because most Americans are under orders to “stay at home” to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
But governors will have a lot to say about when to ease restrictions in their states, and the leaders of Maryland and New Jersey indicated Sunday that they are not likely to do so until widespread testing is available.
“The question is how fast we can get enough tests up to speed in order to help us get to the point where we are able to do all of those things,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said. He said he has set no “artificial deadline.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the risks of reopening too soon are dangerously high. “And I fear, if we open up too early, and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” Murphy said.
The U.S. has the most confirmed cases and deaths of any nation — more than 530,000 and 20,600, respectively — according to Johns Hopkins University. In hard-hit New York, the number of deaths has topped 700 for six straight days, but the increase in people who are hospitalized is slowing, in a hopeful sign.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
Italy recorded the lowest number of new coronavirus deaths in three weeks, saying 431 people died in the past day to bring its total to 19,899. For the ninth day running, intensive care admissions were down and hospitalizations overall were down, relieving pressure on Italy’s over-stressed health -care system.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry on Sunday said increased police patrols over Easter weekend led to more than 12,500 people being sanctioned and 150 facing criminal charges for allegedly violating lockdown measures. Anyone outside is required to carry a certificate explaining why they are outside. Fines can range up to 3,000 euros ($4,500 Cdn) or lead to criminal charges for anyone making a false declaration.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday any further loosening of the country’s lockdown restrictions would depend on more progress in the fight against the coronavirus, a day before some companies plan to reopen their doors. The government plans on Monday to revert to the less strict curbs in force up to March 27, allowing some businesses that cannot work remotely, including construction and manufacturing, to reopen, and triggering concerns of a resurgence.
Catalan leader Quim Torra described the decision to restart these sectors as irresponsible and reckless. “The risk of a new outbreak and a second lockdown is enormous,” he said at a news conference.
The country’s overnight death toll from the infection rose for the first time in three days on Sunday, to 619, health ministry data showed, bringing the cumulative toll to 16,972. Confirmed cases increased to 166,019.
France saw fewer people admitted into intensive care for the fourth day in a row despite the overall death toll rising to nearly 14,400. Sunday’s statistics issued by the Health Ministry confirm the country is reaching a “very high plateau” and reflect initial signs that nearly four weeks of confinement and the “drastic reduction in contacts” are producing an effect, a statement said.
Earlier on Sunday, a French aircraft carrier returned to its base in the southern port of Toulon after some 50 members of its crew and some aboard an escort frigate contracted COVID-19. The French Defence Ministry says the entire crew of some 1,700 sailors will be tested and confined for 14 days in various military quarters in the region. The source of the infection was not immediately known.
British health officials say 657 more people in England have died, raising the total number of U.K. deaths above 10,000. The National Health Service figure does not include deaths in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. A figure for the whole U.K. will be released later.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery from COVID-19 at Chequers, his official country residence, Downing Street said in a statement on Sunday. Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London last Sunday, suffering from persistent symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. On Monday, he was moved into intensive care, where he remained until Thursday.
WATCH | Boris Johnson discharged from hospital after COVID-19 treatment:
Sri Lanka on Sunday imposed a new regulation ordering that the bodies of a person who has died or is suspected to have died from coronavirus should be cremated. According to the new regulation, the body of the deceased will be handed over only to those involved in the cremation process, and the ashes of the deceased may be handed over to the next of kin at their request. So far, seven people have died of the virus while 140 are being treated at hospitals while 56 have recovered.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu resigned late Sunday, taking responsibility for a poorly timed announcement of a weekend coronavirus curfew that prompted thousands of people to rush into the streets.
The 48-hour lockdown of 31 cities was announced just two hours before it took effect on Friday night. Thousands of people ran out to stores to stock up on goods, many without wearing mandatory face masks. Images of large, closely-bunched crowds sparked criticism of the government’s planning for the lockdown.
The country saw a daily rise of 4,789 coronavirus cases and 97 deaths on Sunday as the lockdown approached its end.
South Korean churches have held their Easter services online amid the coronavirus pandemic. Seoul’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, one of the biggest churches in South Korea, delivered an online live stream of its Easter service on Sunday. A small number of masked followers attended the service broadcast via the church’s website. They were seated notably apart from each other to abide by social distancing rules. Choir members also wore masks when they sang hymns.
South Korea has reported 32 additional cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a continued downward trend in new infections in the country.
Chinese cities near the border with Russia said on Sunday they would tighten border controls and quarantine measures on arrivals from abroad after the number of imported cases of COVID-19 hit a record high. The border city of Suifenhe and Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang, said it would require all arrivals from abroad to undergo 28 days of quarantine, as well as nucleic acid and antibody tests.
New daily confirmed cases in mainland China reached 99 on April 11, almost doubling from 46 the previous day to a one-month high. All but two of the new recorded cases involved people traveling from abroad, many of them Chinese nationals returning from Russia.
Strict lockdowns had contained the disease in China, where it has killed a recorded 3,339 people since it emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year and then spread around the world.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says the country is “in a good place” in its fight against the coronavirus as the death toll rose by three to 59. Australia now has 6,289 confirmed cases. Murphy says people in the community are still transmitting the virus so it is necessary to “keep our pressure on and make sure that we don’t end up like countries in the world that you have all seen on the news.”
A plane carrying 112 Australians and New Zealand passengers of a cruise ship — including many infected with COVID-19 — arrived in Melbourne early Sunday on a flight from Uruguay.
The operator of the Greg Mortimer, Aurora Expeditions, confirmed this week that 128 of 217 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. Uruguay Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi said two Australian passengers remain in intensive care in a Montevideo hospital. The ship was stranded in Uruguay for more than two weeks after leaving Argentina on March 15 for a 16-day return trip to Antarctica.
Across Africa, Easter services were held in nearly empty churches. As of Sunday, 52 of Africa’s 54 countries have reported the presence of COVID-19, including 744 deaths from 13,686 cases.
In Lagos, Nigeria, a Catholic mass was held in the Holy Cross cathedral and broadcast for viewing by people at home.
In Nairobi, Kenya, a Catholic mass was held at the capital city’s cathedral and residents were able to stream it on social media or national broadcast networks.
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno and his cabinet members took 50 per cent pay cuts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that in recent weeks has overwhelmed sanitary authorities in the city of Guayaquil, where corpses remained in homes or for hours on streets.
The salary reductions will also affect state officials including lawmakers in the National Assembly, who have heavily criticized Moreno’s plans to increase taxes to shore up government finances amid the pandemic.
Official data on Sunday showed Ecuador had 7,466 infections and 333 deaths. Another 384 people are believed to have died of coronavirus, but the cases were unconfirmed because they were not tested.
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