Nearly 100 Canadians aboard coronavirus-stricken Coral Princess set to disembark

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Nearly 100 Canadians aboard the coronavirus-stricken Coral Princess cruise ship docked in Florida were set to disembark and begin the last leg of their journey home on Sunday.

Sue Lyon of Toronto, who is on the ship with her husband Gary, told CBC News they’ve learned that the U.K. passengers are going to leave at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday and head home on two chartered flights. As of Sunday morning, the couple had still not heard from the captain when the Canadians will be able to disembark.

The vessel departed San Antonio, Chile, on March 5 and was set to end its voyage March 19 in Buenos Aires, but it was discovered that a dozen people on board tested positive for COVID-19. The ship has been looking for a place to dock since March 13, but no country had allowed it until now.

The cruise ship docked in Miami on Saturday with 97 Canadian passengers and two Canadian crew members.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said flights repatriating Canadians have lifted off from Algeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru and India. Champagne said flights are expected Sunday from Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, India, Lebanon and Serbia.

At his daily media briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded Canadians who have lost their job or paycheque due to government policies to control the virus to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit starting Monday.

The government’s website says applicants can start receiving benefits within 10 days by mail or “more quickly” through direct deposit. Trudeau on Sunday said Canadians can receive a first payment in three to five days if they choose the latter.

Queen to urge self-discipline in broadcast

As cases of the respiratory illness continue to increase around the world, Queen Elizabeth will use a rare address to the nation later Sunday to acknowledge the suffering many families have experienced because of the pandemic and to appeal to people to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time.”

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said in pre-released remarks. “And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any, that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve, and of fellow-feeling still characterize this country.”

WATCH | A pharmacist talks about keeping himself and customers safe:

Ontario pharmacist Hank Parsaniya is a front-line worker who says he can’t afford to purchase a Plexiglas barrier for his business. 5:48

The Queen has delivered only a handful of such speeches in her 67-year reign outside her annual holiday messages — including after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, before the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991.

This address was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. The location was chosen specifically because it allowed enough space between the monarch and the camera person, who wore personal protective equipment.

Canada not choosing retaliatory measures against U.S.

Faced with a White House-ordered ban on exports of key COVID-19 medical supplies to Canada and abroad, Trudeau has been trying a more diplomatic approach with U.S. President Donald Trump, hoping to convince him such a ban will harm Americans and Canadians alike.

Trudeau says he plans to speak with Trump in the coming days about his administration’s order preventing brokers, distributors and other intermediaries from diverting scarce personal protective equipment from the United States to other countries like Canada.

WATCH | Why N95 masks are so important:

The Trump administration is telling one of the world’s leading manufacturers of N95 masks that it should stop exporting masks to Canada and Latin America. 2:43

Trudeau says he is not considering counter-measures against this move by the U.S., but rather he believes the countries can come to a mutual understanding of the need to work together.

“We are not looking at retaliatory measures or measures that are punitive,” Trudeau said from outside his Rideau Cottage residence Saturday.

A man rides the subway in Toronto earlier this week. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

“We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and co-operatively to keep our citizens safe, and that’s very much the tenor of our conversations, and I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”

He highlighted that thousands of medical workers who live in Canada work every day in the U.S., helping to treat COVID-19 patients in America. He also noted Canada supplies the U.S. with many key COVID-19 supplies, including pulp for surgical-grade N95 masks, test kits and gloves.

Trudeau plans to use these examples to ensure the U.S. president understands the inter-connectedness of supply chains and the importance of keeping all goods and services flowing freely between the two countries.

WATCH | Trudeau says Ottawa collecting data to make broader COVID-19 predictions:

Trudeau says that the federal government will continue to collect the necessary data to make broader COVID-19 predictions. 0:25

“We recognize that our countries are deeply interlinked in sometimes very complex ways. The necessary goods and services back-and-forth across our border keep us both safe and help us on both sides of the border,” Trudeau said.

“We are continuing to engage in constructive discussions with different levels within the administration to highlight that the U.S. will be hurting itself as much as Canada will be hurting if we see an interruption of essential goods and services flow back and forth across the border.”

A health-care worker is shown at a homeless outdoor day centre in Montreal last Sunday as COVID-19 cases were continuing to rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Trump, in his opening remarks at his Saturday news conference, highlighted the need for masks to stay in the U.S.

“We need the masks. We don’t want other people getting them,” Trump said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was far less diplomatic than Trudeau in his reaction to the U.S. measure, blasting the Trump administration for trying to block essential medical equipment from coming to Canada.

“We’re the two largest trading partners anywhere in the world. It’s like one of your family members [says], ‘OK, you go starve, and we’ll go feast on the rest of the meal.’ I’m just so disappointed right now,” Ford said Saturday.

“We have a great relationship with the U.S., and they pull these shenanigans? Unacceptable.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at the daily briefing at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Saturday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

With hospitals and health-care workers across the country rationing masks and other protective equipment due to shortages, Trudeau said the government has been working around the clock to get Canada the resources it needs.

He says Canada will be receiving “millions” of masks in the next 48 hours by a chartered cargo flight, which includes items ordered by Quebec.

Canada has also leased a warehouse in China to ensure timely collection and distribution of these items, Trudeau said, adding that flights chartered by the federal government to transport these materials to Canada going forward will include Canadian companies Cargo Jet and Air Canada.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms such as pneumonia. 

More than 1.19 million people have been reported infected with the respiratory illness across the world, and 64,421 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Cases have been reported in more than 200 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the situation is evolving daily, and the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”

Military vehicles heading to CFB Borden

The Department of National Defence, meanwhile, issued what it called a “public service announcement” on Sunday to say people will be seeing a “larger number” of military personnel and vehicles on the roads between the Greater Toronto Area and Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, starting Monday.

Those heading to the base, 100 kilometres north of Toronto, from their units across the province will be “kept ready to respond to future requests for assistance” from the federal government in the fight against COVID-19, the department said.  

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

Canada has more than 14,000 cases confirmed and presumptive cases, with 274 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 2,785 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil. 

Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case. 

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer said B.C. is in the crucial, two-week period where officials could get a greater understanding of how physical distancing measures and other orders are working. The province announced 29 new cases on Saturday, its lowest number this week. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

In Alberta, there are now nine outbreaks at continuing care centres, with 93 cases stemming from those facilities. Meanwhile, Calgary Transit announced Saturday that three workers had tested positive for COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Handmade signs show support of residents and staff in the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care centre, where there are dozens of confirmed COVID-19 cases, in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

In Saskatchewan, the head of the province’s nurses union says health officials are looking at “new and creative ways” for medical workers to reuse face masks. The Saskatchewan Health Authority will have to first conduct trials to make sure the practice is safe in hospitals where personal protective equipment is already being rationed. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is opening what it calls “alternative isolation centres” this weekend for people who need to self-isolate and may need extra support. The first is in a hotel, which will have enhanced cleaning. The province’s chief nursing officer says housekeeping staff at its acute care centres will start collecting “gently used” N95 masks for sterilization and re-use if the masks are deemed safe. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

In Ontario, Premier Ford says only essential workers should leave home unless it’s for getting groceries or other absolutely necessary reasons. To drive home the message, the province sent out another emergency alert Saturday.

WATCH | Why gloves don’t offer you much protection:

Dr. Samir Gupta explains why most people are better off washing their hands with soap and water than wearing gloves for protection against COVID-19. 1:54 

Meanwhile, Canada’s largest prison for women is in partial lockdown as it deals with a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. Five inmates have tested positive at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. The union says one prison guard has also tested positive for the virus. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

In Quebec, 14 more people have died. The province has 6,997 cases, and there are 478 people in hospital, including 130 in intensive care, Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec.

WATCH | Paramedic describes front-line fight against COVID-19:

Iggy Chan says coronavirus has made his job more dangerous because he is fighting an ‘invisible’ enemy. 4:41

New Brunswick confirmed three new cases Saturday, and the provincial RCMP said one officer has tested positive, while another is in isolation. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia is reporting 29 new cases. As Premier Stephen McNeil concluded a COVID-19 update on Friday, he offered a stern warning that may well become the mantra of his political career: “Stay the blazes home.” The phrase has taken on a life of its own online, inspiring music, merchandise and memes. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island on Saturday said it has recorded no new cases compared with the previous day. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said the island’s confirmed number of cases remains at 22. Morrison is urging Islanders not to become complacent and to continue staying home in order to prevent community transmission. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced eight new cases. The majority of the province’s now-more-than 200 cases are connected to a single funeral home. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

WATCH | What the COVID-19 pandemic looks like across Canada:

A look at how different provinces are handling the COVID-19 pandemic and how the numbers vary. 4:46

The Northwest Territories’ premier and top health officials doubled down on a government policy to not identify small communities with cases of COVID-19 in a news conference Saturday, just a day after local leadership in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., contradicted the policy. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

To see how things break down in your province, visit the CBC’s COVID-19 case tracker. Want to learn more about what the daily data means? Here’s how to make sense of the coronavirus numbers.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

The number of people infected in the U.S. has soared to more than 312,000 as the fatalities climbed past 8,500. New York City, with close to 60,000 confirmed cases so far, is the epicentre of the U.S. outbreak, but other areas have been slammed as well. More than 400 people have died in Louisiana, where state authorities have been rushing to find ventilators. Michigan has more than 14,000 infections and 500 deaths, mainly in Detroit.

“We are going to have a pretty tough week ahead of us,” said Ugo Ezenkwele, chief of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Queens hospital in New York. 

“We think the peak will be about April 9. That is what everybody’s models are suggesting, but we don’t know — the peak could be even further away from that point,” Ezenkwele told CBC News.

New York’s governor said Saturday that the Chinese government was facilitating a shipment of 1,000 donated ventilators to his state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the Chinese government for its help in securing the shipment of the breathing machines that was scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Airport on Saturday, while acknowledging that the U.S. government’s stockpile of medical supplies would fall drastically short.

A stranded American couple salute as they arrive at the international airport to board a special repatriation flight back to the U.S., in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Sunday. The flight was the second and most likely the last one for Americans for a chance to get home as Nepal is set to extend the lockdown imposed since last month to stop spread of coronavirus. (Binaj Gurubacharya/The Associated Press)

“We’re all in the same battle here,” Cuomo said, noting that the state of Oregon also volunteered to send 140 ventilators to New York. “And the battle is stopping the spread of the virus.”

The rush to secure supplies has prompted intense squabbling between the states and federal government at a moment the nation is facing one of its gravest emergencies. Leaders like Cuomo have been forced to go outside normal channels and work with authoritarian governments and private companies.

WATCH | Trump says he wants fans back in sports arenas ‘as soon as we can’:

President Donald Trump says he wants fans back in arenas ‘as soon as we can’. 0:44

In mixed messages, Trump on Saturday warned the U.S. could be headed into its “toughest” weeks yet and see many deaths but also said he’s eager to get the country reopened and its stalled economy back on track.

Trump also said states are making inflated requests for medical supplies when the need isn’t there and suggested he had a hand in the ventilator shipment arriving from China to New York. Trump also said he’d like to hear a more resounding “thank you” from Cuomo for providing medical supplies and helping quickly to add hospital capacity. Cuomo acknowledged he asked the White House and others for help negotiating the ventilators.

“We have given the governor of New York more than anybody has ever been given in a long time,” Trump told reporters in Washington.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Italy, Spain and parts of Europe

Spain‘s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that his nation ravaged by the pandemic is “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” However, the country’s cases rose Sunday to 130,759, up from about 124,000 on Saturday, including over 11,000 deaths.

Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region is now requiring residents to wear a protective mask when they go outside in a bid to further trim infections. The ordinance goes into effect Sunday and lasts through April 13. While all of Italy is under a nationwide lockdown, Lombardy has passed particularly tight restrictions on movement and business operations in an effort to curb infections in the epicentre of Europe’s outbreak. 

The pandemic has claimed over 14,681 lives in Italy, which has 119,827 confirmed cases, according to the fresh data released by the World Health Organization on Saturday. 

In Vatican City, Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday mass without the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Only a few of his aides, invited prelates, nuns and laypeople were in attendance in Saint Peter’s Basilica and were staggered two metres apart to reduce the risk of contagion.

France‘s health director said that 7,560 people have died of coronavirus-related issues in France, including at least 2,028 in nursing homes. Jerome Salomon spoke Saturday evening at a daily news briefing, saying France has had 441 more deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours. He also said that 28,143 people were currently hospitalized — of which 6,838 are in intensive care, accounting for a rise of 176 people in 24 hours in intensive care. The Rungis food market south of Paris, Europe’s biggest, is transforming into a morgue.

An NHS (National Health Service) worker is tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing centre at Chessington World of Adventures, Greater London, on Saturday. (Matt Dunham/he Associated Press)

In the United Kingdom, deaths from the virus could rise to between about 7,000 and 20,000 under measures taken to slow its spread, Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, who has helped shape the government’s response, said Sunday.

“We had an exponentially growing curve of infections, which we interrupted at a certain time,” the epidemiologist told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

On Sunday, the death toll from the virus in the U.K. had risen to 4,934, up from 4,313 the previous day.

Britain will have to further restrict rules allowing outdoor exercise if “too many people” keep flouting lockdown rules designed to combat the coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday. 

Greece has put a migrant facility outside Athens on lockdown for 14 days after a 53-year-old Afghan developed coronavirus symptoms Saturday afternoon. Authorities say the man has been taken to an Athens hospital and
is under “full medical evaluation.” They have not specified the seriousness of his condition.

Here’s a look at China and some other areas around the world

China‘s health authorities reported 30 new coronavirus cases Sunday, including 25 people who had arrived from overseas. The other five cases were in southern China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.

China has clamped down on international arrivals, banning most foreigners from entering and limiting foreign airlines to one flight per week. Having largely stopped the spread of the disease, the fear is that infected people coming from abroad could spark new outbreaks.

The National Health Commission said that three more people had died, bringing the country’s death toll to 3,329 as of the end of Saturday. The deaths were in Wuhan, where the pandemic began and by far the hardest-hit city in China. The number of confirmed cases stood at 81,669.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday “low-risk” economic activities would resume from April 11 in the Middle Eastern country worst-affected by the coronavirus.

Rouhani did not spell what he meant by low-risk activity, but said the suspension of “high-risk activities” — schools, universities and various social, cultural, sports and religious events would be extended to April 18. 

Ethiopia has reported its first death of a COVID-19 patient, a 60-year old woman, who was in treatment at a hospital in the capital since March 31, the Health Minister Lia Tadesse said Sunday. The Horn of Africa nation has a total of 43 confirmed cases of the disease and has reported four recoveries.

In South Africa, part of a hospital in the city of Durban has been shut down after 11 coronavirus cases were confirmed among patients and staffers. South Africa now has more than 1,500 cases, the most in Africa.

In Sri Lanka, nearly 2,900 prisoners have been released from overcrowded prisons as the Indian ocean island nation has stepped up its efforts to contain the virus. Sri Lanka’s prisons are highly congested, and the president’s office said there are more than 26,000 inmates in a system designed for 10,000.

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