Police investigating after 31 patients died inside Quebec long-term care home: The latest on coronavirus

The latest: 

Police are investigating the owners of a privately run Montreal-area 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, many 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.

​​​​​​The news came at a time when care homes have been in the spotlight because of troubling reports in both Quebec and Ontario about elderly residents contracting COVID-19 in long-term care homes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an emotional speech in the House of Commons on Saturday, noted that the crisis is most devastating for the elderly. He said the last members of the “greatest generation” who lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War are now most at risk of dying from COVID-19.

WATCH | Documents reveal Canada’s slow initial reaction to outbreak:

Briefing notes prepared for federal ministers show just how quickly the COVID-19 situation evolved in Canada. 1:55

Parliament passed the federal government’s wage subsidy legislation Saturday night after an emergency sitting. The bill is aimed at providing financial support for companies reporting big losses in revenue caused by the pandemic. Businesses and charities that qualify will be given money to pay employees up to 75 per cent of their salary.

As of Saturday, more than 23,000 Canadians had tested positive for COVID-19. The total death count is now over 700.

With outbreaks in dozens of facilities, Ontario’s long-term care homes are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic deaths, which account for close to half the coronavirus-related fatalities in the province.

Workers at a residence for people with disabilities in Markham, Ont., walked out on Thursday when they were told of an outbreak there.

Laura Meffen said she removed her daughter Emily Kerr from the care home after learning last Tuesday of a “possible outbreak,” which was later confirmed. Participation House saw many of its employees abandoned their posts after they were informed about the outbreak.

WATCH | One in 4 residents at Markham care home test positive:

A ‘state of emergency’ is declared at Participation House, a facility for adults with physical and developmental disabilities, after a COVID-19 outbreak. 2:00

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.

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.

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, a 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.

WATCH | Can COVID-19 be spread by talking?

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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.” 

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 Saturday evening, Canada had 23,318 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. The provinces and territories that provide data on recovered cases listed more than 6,600 as resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths, which is based on public health information and reporting, lists 702 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, as well as two coronavirus-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.

British Columbia’s top doctor says the province is working closely with federal counterparts to deal with an outbreak at a federal prison in Mission, B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 35 new cases and three deaths on Saturday, urging residents to stay home for the long weekend and avoid “unnecessary travel.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

WATCH | B.C. resort communities fear Easter visitors during pandemic:

Despite orders to stay home, small towns in B.C. are worried an influx of visitors during the Easter long weekend will put greater strain on efforts to keep their communities safe from the virus. 1:56

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province would be sending equipment to other provinces battling COVID-19. ​​​​​​Kenney said Alberta had an excess of equipment thanks to planning that began early in the pandemic.

Ontario will receive 250,000 N95 masks, five million procedural masks, 15 million gloves, 87,000 goggles and 50 ventilators; Quebec will receive 250,000 N95 masks, two million procedural masks and 15 million gloves; while British Columbia is set to receive 250,000 N95 masks. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Paramedics cart a patient away from CHSLD Herron on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan has recorded its fourth death. A press release from the province said the person who died is a Saskatchewan resident in their 60s and died from COVID-19 related complications. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

In Manitoba, a Winnipeg medical team has designed a new mask for health-care workers that could help replace the N95 masks — but the province still needs to find someone to make them. Manitoba is seeking submissions from local manufacturers that would be able to start making the new masks as soon as possible. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

The Ontario government on Saturday said it has extended until April 23 all emergency orders in place under a section of the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, declared on March 17, to help slow the spread of infection.

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.

Members of Parliament, attending in limited numbers and seated apart to practice physical distancing, are seen in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on Saturday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

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.

A person wearing a mask carries groceries while walking past a mural in Edmonton on Saturday. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Prince Edward Island is reporting no new cases for the third consecutive day. 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 no new cases today. Additionally, the government says recoveries have now eclipsed active cases. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia recorded 21 new cases — including a Halifax Regional Police officer — bringing the province’s total to 428. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford unloads personal protective equipment from his vehicle during a donation drive in Toronto on Saturday. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new confirmed cases, bringing the province’s number of confirmed cases to 241. Health officials say 120 people have recovered from the virus while there have been three deaths from COVID-19 in the province. 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 U.S. death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed Italy’s for the highest in the world Saturday and surpassed 20,000 as Chicago and other cities across the Midwest braced for a potential surge in victims and moved to snuff out smouldering hot spots of contagion.

The death rate — that is, the number of dead relative to the population — is still far higher in Italy than in U.S., which has more than five times as many people. And worldwide, the true numbers of dead and infected are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, different counting practices and concealment by some governments.

With the New York area still deep in crisis, fear mounted over the spread of the scourge into the nation’s heartland.

People practise physical distancing as they line up outside a store in Halifax on Saturday. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

About half of U.S. deaths are in the New York metropolitan area, where hospitalizations are nevertheless slowing and other indicators suggest lockdowns and physical distancing are “flattening the curve” of infections and staving off the doomsday scenarios.

New York state on Saturday reported 783 more deaths, for a total over 8,600.

In the Midwest, pockets of contagion have alarmed state and city leaders and led to stricter enforcement.

Twenty-four residents of an Indiana nursing home hit by COVID-19 have died, while a nursing home in Iowa saw 14 deaths. Chicago’s Cook County has set up a temporary morgue that can take more than 2,000 bodies. And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been going around telling groups of people to “break it up.”

A member of the U.S. national guard checks people in at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in New York City on Saturday. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Nearly 300 inmates at the Cook County Jail have tested positive for the virus, and two have died.

In Wisconsin, health officials expect to see an increase in coronavirus cases after thousands of people went to the polls during the state’s presidential primary Tuesday.

Michigan’s governor extended her state’s stay-at-home order with new provisions: People with multiple homes may no longer travel between them.

And in Kansas, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a dispute Saturday between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican lawmakers who overturned her executive order banning religious services and funerals with more than 10 people.

People wearing protective masks pass a wall with a message written in chalk in Chicago on Saturday. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

Meanwhile, Defence Department officials say the White House has approved the production of N95 masks.

According to a statement, $133 million US will be used to increase the production capacity of masks to more than 39 million over the next 90 days. Officials say the names of the companies that have been chosen to make the masks will be made available in the coming days when the contract is awarded.

The masks will be made under the Defence Production Act. President Donald Trump invoked the act, which gives the federal government broad authority to direct private companies to meet the needs of the national defence, to help provide medical supplies.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world 

Iran began reopening government offices Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country out of 68,000 total cases.

Authorities had ordered most government agencies and all non-essential businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on Apr. 4.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested mass gatherings may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which runs from late April through most of May. 

There are more than 134,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East, including over 5,300 fatalities.

Protective masks hang in a decontamination unit at the Battelle N95 decontamination site in Somerville, Mass., on Saturday. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

South Korea announced plans Saturday to strap tracking wristbands on people who defy quarantine orders. Officials there say stricter controls are required because some of the 57,000 people who are under orders to stay home have slipped out by leaving behind smartphones with tracking apps. Plans for broader use of wristbands were scaled back after objections by human rights and legal activists.

The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it was looking into reports of some COVID-19 patients in South Korea were testing positive again after initially testing negative for the disease.

South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the novel coronavirus had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being re-infected.

Medical firm staff work in a lab on coronavirus testing kits just outside Tehran on Saturday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)

Britain’s health secretary on Saturday reiterated appeals to health-care workers not to overuse personal protective equipment, urging everyone to treat PPE as a “precious resource.” Matt Hancock’s comment came after he recently faced backlash from health-care workers who say they do not have enough PPE when treating patients with COVID-19.

On Saturday, Britain reported 9,875 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the fifth highest national number globally. It was the second day running that the number to die had increased by more than 900.

Almost 80,000 people in Britain have tested positive for the virus, among them Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in the early stages of recovery on a hospital ward after spending three nights in intensive care.

‘I owe them my life,” Johnson, 55, said of National Health Service staff who have treated him in hospital since last Sunday after his condition worsened.

Election officials in Yongin, South Korea, check their protective gear on Saturday as they wait for voters during early voting for the April 15 general elections at a special polling station set up for coronavirus patients and medical workers. (Hong Ki-won/The Associated Press)

Italy has topped 19,000 deaths and 150,000 cases of the coronavirus. The milestones were hit Saturday, even as the country continued to see a slight decrease in numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care.

Officials have been warning Italians not to let their guard down even if the number of new cases and deaths is narrowing, especially on the Easter holiday weekend when many are tempted to go to the countryside or seashore.

Police checkpoints were set up around major arteries in Milan, the capital of the hardest-hit region of Lombardy — with 38 per cent of all cases and more than half of all deaths.

St. Thomas Hospital, where U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted, is seen in London on Saturday. (Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press)

Spain said it will distribute 10 million face masks at major train and subway stations as the country reported its lowest daily death count in nearly three weeks with 510.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska made the announcement on Saturday, two days before factory and construction workers will be allowed to go back to work. That comes after a two-week ban on commuting for all workers not involved in health care or food production and distribution. Grande-Marlaska says police and civil protection officers will distribute the masks at “major public transport nodes” from Monday to Wednesday for those workers.

Spain has confirmed 161,852 infections and 16,353 deaths.

People practice physical distancing as they wait in line to enter at a supermarket in San Donato, in the outskirts of Milan, on Saturday. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

In France, the country’s intensive care units saw fewer patients for a third day in a row. However, deaths continue to mount. More than 13,000 people have now died.

Meanwhile, some 160,000 French security forces were fanning out around the country to ensure people respect the “stay home” mantra over the Easter weekend. Police were posted at highway entrances and other critical transiting spots for people trying to escape city life; officers on horseback combed beaches and parks along the northern French coast; and drones were used in other areas to spot people defying strict confinement rules. Those rules end Wednesday after one month, but are expected to be extended.

In Liberia, the first day of a lockdown over COVID-19 was marked by police using sticks and truncheons to separate people at a market on Saturday. Few of the physical distancing measures the government has imposed are being applied. Liberia on Saturday recorded 48 people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus with five deaths.

Health-care workers carry on a stretcher two elderly residents of a nursing home who tested positive for COVID-19 in Barcelona on Saturday. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)

Turkey has reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases, pushing the total to above 50,000 since recording its first confirmed infection exactly a month ago.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says there were 5,138 cases over the previous 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 52,167. The death toll rose to 1,101 with the addition of 95 fatalities.

The minister says the rise in cases reflected a greater number of tests being conducted — 33,170 over 24 hours to take the total number of tests to 340,380.

Police officers on horses check documents as they patrol the streets in the coastal town of Cancale, France, on Saturday. (David Vincent/Associated Press)

Mainland China reported 99 new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 11, including 97 involving travellers from overseas, up from a total of 46 new cases a day earlier, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday.

The commission said in a statement that 63 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday, up from 34 on Saturday.

Mainland China’s tally of infections now stands at 82,052, while the death toll stands at 3,339.

Shanghai, China’s commercial hub, contributed to more than half of the imported cases. The city reported 52 new coronavirus cases on April 11, all involving Chinese nationals travelling from overseas, the municipal health commission said on Sunday.

Of Shanghai’s new cases, 51 flew in on the same flight from Russia on April 10. The 52nd case involves a Chinese national arriving in Shanghai from a trip to Canada.

The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine have warned of a “collapse of emergency medicine” because of a surge in coronavirus patients.

Their statement said many hospitals were turning away people, rushed by ambulance, including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. Some of those who were turned away later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Masks and surgical gowns were running short, the statement said. Japan has nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases and about 100 deaths, but the numbers are growing. The government has declared a state of emergency, asking people to stay home.

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