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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

The latest news on the novel coronavirus and the illness dubbed COVID-19 (all times Eastern): 10:15 p.m. The Prime Minister's Office says Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The latest news on the novel coronavirus and the illness dubbed COVID-19 (all times Eastern):


10:15 p.m.

The Prime Minister's Office says Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Following medical advice, the prime minister's wife is remaining in isolation for the time being.

The PMO says in a statement that she is feeling well, is taking all the recommended precautions and her symptoms remain mild.

It says the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in good health with no symptoms.


9 p.m.

The Superior Court of Justice in Ontario is cancelling jury panels for upcoming criminal and civil trials.

Jenessa Crognali, a spokesperson for Attorney General Doug Downey, says the step has been taken as a precaution to keep the public, court users and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email, Crognali says anyone who has received a summons for jury duty for an upcoming trial should not go to court.

Jury trials that are already underway will continue.


7:30 p.m.

New Brunswick is suspending jury trials in the Court of Queen's Bench until May 12.

Chief Justice Tracey DeWare informed the provincial justice minister of the decision — which went into effect on Thursday — in a letter after consulting the Health Department and chief medical officer.

DeWare describes the decision as "exceptional" and assures Andrea Anderson-Mason, the attorney general and justice minister, that the suspension of jury trials will only remain in place while necessary to protect public health.

She says people who are served with a jury summons would have a legal obligation to attend the courthouse, despite health advisories telling people to be cautious about attending public events and to maintain their distance from others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DeWare says the court's pre-screening of prospective jurors does not include taking into account COVID-19.



6:55 p.m.

Health officials in British Columbia are advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada including to the United States.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be required to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return.

She is also recommending that organizers cancel any events for 250 or more people.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says schools will remain open but officials will consult over the spring break to determine appropriate policies and procedures.

Henry and Dix made the announcement as the province recorded seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in B.C. to 53.


6:30 p.m.

Manitoba has announced more presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the province to three.

Two men in their 30s from the Winnipeg region have tested positive.

The province announced it's first case this morning, a woman in her 40s, who recently travelled to the Philippines.


5:45 p.m.

Alberta has four new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says the cases include a two-year-old who had travelled with family to Florida.

The child, who is from the Calgary area, is expected to recover.

Hinshaw is also recommending organizers cancel events in the province with more than 250 people, and that no one travel outside Canada.

Alberta now has a total of 23 cases — all travel-related.


5:30 p.m.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says the city will close all its libraries, arenas and swimming pools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The closings, which also include the city-run planetarium and botanical gardens, will take effect Friday.

Plante called it a major response to a major situation.

She says the city's subway system will remain open, in part because it is an essential mode of transportation for health-care workers, but she encouraged employers to allow flexible hours so people can avoid rush-hour travel.


5:25 p.m.

Ottawa's Carleton University is preparing to move classes online for the rest of the term.

University president Benoit-Antoine Bacon says in a public message that the decision hasn't been made but could be within the next week.

Carleton has cancelled several large events and camps it intended to run for younger students during March break.

Bacon says nobody on campus has tested positive for COVID-19 but "a few individuals" are in self-isolation over recent travel.

Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., has cancelled face-to-face classes.


4:40 p.m.

The Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops has announced the cancellation of all Saturday and Sunday masses in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The organization of 28 bishops from across the province says the move follows Premier Francois Legault's appeal today to limit large gatherings.

It notes in a statement that many parishioners are 65 and older and are at greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

Churches will remain open for smaller gatherings and personal visits.


4:02 p.m.

Ontario is closing all public schools for two weeks after March break in light of COVID-19 concerns.

A joint statement from Premier Doug Ford, the health minister and the education minister says the decision is based on the advice of the province's chief medical officer of health.

Schools have been ordered closed from March 14 to April 5.

The politicians say they recognize the significant impact the move will have on families, students, schools and the broader community, but it's a necessary precaution to keep people safe.


3:10 p.m.

The Canadian Screen Awards set for later this month in Toronto have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television says the cancellation affects the broadcast gala scheduled to air on CBC on March 29th as well as all Canadian Screen Week events in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Organizers issued a statement saying the decision comes after "a thorough review of Canadian Screen Week events and an assessment of the potential risk" to its attendees.

The academy says it is committed to the celebration of the nominees and special award honourees and will share an update in the coming weeks.


3:05 p.m.

Organizers of the annual Vaisakhi Khalsa Parade in Surrey, B.C., have cancelled the event.

They say the day-long event, which was scheduled for April 25, is the largest Vaisakhi Parade in the world and draws more than 500,000 people.

The organizers say the decision was made after consultation with public health officials.

The celebration is considered one of the most significant days in the Sikh calendar, and marks the creation of the Khalsa in 1699.


3 p.m.

The International Air Transport Association trade group is calling on governments to assist airlines with extended lines of credit, lighter tax burdens and other measures.

It's forecasting that the pandemic will wipe out more than $113 billion in airline revenue.

The $1-billion funding package Ottawa announced Wednesday, which targets the country’s health-care system and workers forced to isolate themselves, offers no direct support to airlines.


2:29 p.m.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canadians looking at whether to travel for March break should consider staying home.

Speaking to reporters before question period in the House of Commons today, Hajdu said her advice to Canadians considering travel during school spring break is that they should consider a “staycation."

Canadians are being encouraged to continue to check travel advisories before leaving for any international trips.


2 p.m.

Organizers say Montreal is postponing its annual St. Patrick's Day parade.

The United Irish Societies of Montreal announced today the 197th edition of the parade will not occur as scheduled on March 22 because of COVID-19 concerns.

The decision was made in conjunction with the City of Montreal not long after the Quebec government banned indoor gatherings involving more than 250 people.

Montreal joins Toronto, New York City, Chicago, Boston and Dublin in calling off St. Patrick's Day parades.


1:40 p.m.

The National Hockey League says it's suspending its season effective immediately as a result of the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement comes a day after the National Basketball Association took the same step in the wake of a positive diagnosis for one of its players.

Earlier in the day the NHL advised teams to skip meetings, skates and practices.


 1:10 p.m.

A daycare in a downtown Calgary office tower has closed after a child tested positive for COVID-19.

Suncor Energy spokeswoman Erin Rees says the Pump-Kin Patch Child Care Centre is closed until March 23.

She says families of children there have been told to self-quarantine until March 20.

Suncor doesn't operate the daycare but the centre is located in Suncor's office building, and Rees says many employees have children that attend.


12:53 p.m.

Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay says he is suspending all campaign events for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MacKay made the announcement in a tweet.

Separately, organizers of the annual Manning Conference in Ottawa say they are cancelling this year's gathering, which regularly attracts a wide-range of high-profile conservative politicians.

In an online notice, Manning Centre president Troy Lanigan says they have reached out to MacKay and other leadership candidates to see if a planned debate could go ahead as a live-streamed event.


12:45 p.m.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is putting together an emergency aid package in response to a “triple whammy” hitting his province's economy.

Kenney says the economic fallout from COVID-19, the plunge in oil prices and the potential for a looming global recession must be addressed.

He says details are coming soon and he has assurances from the federal government that they will support it.

He says he is also exploring how to ensure the spread of the novel coronavirus doesn’t result in a shutdown of either critical provincial services or the energy sector.


12:15 p.m.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's feeling unwell and will be limiting contact with the public for the foreseeable future.

Singh released a tweet saying his symptoms are not consistent with COVID-19, but his doctors have urged him to stay home all the same.

Singh says it's important to take steps to protect people who may be vulnerable to illness, including the novel coronavirus.


12:15 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is asking all people returning to the province from travel abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

The measure will be mandatory for all government employees.

He is also asking organizers to cancel all indoor events attracting crowds of more than 250 people and all other large gatherings that are not considered essential.

The province now has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19.


12:05 p.m.

Health officials say there are 17 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.

The latest positive test results bring the total number of cases in the province to 59.

The patients include a baby boy under the age of one.


11:57 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau are in self-isolation after she began showing mild flu-like symptoms.

Gregoire Trudeau recently returned from a trip to London, U.K., and is currently being tested for COVID-19.

A release from the Prime Minister's Office says her symptoms have subsided, while Trudeau is not currently showing any signs of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

An in-person meeting of Canada's First Ministers set for today has been cancelled, though the provincial and territorial leaders will still meet by phone.


11:50 a.m.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health says the province has its first presumptive case of COVID-19.

The province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says the person recently travelled to Egypt.

The person, who is about 60, was tested in Saskatoon earlier this month and has been self-isolating at home.


11:40 a.m.

Toronto's St. Patrick's Day Parade has been cancelled amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city's St. Patrick's Parade Society made the announcement this morning.

The event had originally been scheduled to take place this Sunday.

The cancellation marks an about-face for the society, which had released a statement on Wednesday saying the parade would go ahead.


11:25 a.m.

The Juno Awards have been cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show, which celebrates Canadian music, was to take place Sunday at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says the decision was made with input and guidance from provincial tourism and health authorities.


11:20 a.m.

Manitoba has announced its first case of COVID-19.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says a woman who recently travelled to the Philippines has tested positive for coronavirus.

He says the woman is isolated at home.

Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the province was prepared to rapidly respond.


11:15 a.m.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has ended speculation that he will call an early spring election saying his government will focus on fighting COVID-19.

Moe's office released a statement saying that the province needs stable government while addressing the health and economic impacts of the outbreak.

The 2020 provincial election is scheduled for October, but Moe has speculated for weeks about going to the polls early.

Moe has been under pressure in recent days to rule out an early election as the number of COVID-19 climbs in Canada.


11 a.m.

Ontario's premier says concerns over COVID-19 shouldn't prevent people from going on vacation for March Break.

Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa, Doug Ford said he wants people to have a good time and enjoy themselves.

He says the province is monitoring the situation daily and things may change, but for now, people shouldn't alter their plans.

The remarks come ahead of a first ministers' meeting set for later today.


10:17 a.m.

The Toronto Raptors say their players, coaches and travelling staff have been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

The team says everyone who was on the road in recent days is currently being tested for COVID-19, but results are not immediately available.

The Raptors played against the Utah Jazz on Monday, and a player on that team tested positive for COVID-19 two days later.

The National Basketball Association has opted to suspend the season until further notice in the wake of that positive diagnosis.


10:07 a.m.

The National Hockey League is advising clubs to forgo morning skates and practices.

The league is also advising against team meetings, citing what it calls "uncertainty regarding next steps" related to COVID-19.

The NHL says it plans to make an announcement about the future of the season later today.


9:40 a.m.

The city of Toronto is announcing a COVID-19 task force, to be led by the city's fire chief.

The task force will plan for various responses to the novel coronavirus, including staff absenteeism and its impact on delivering core services.

It will also look at global supply chain challenges for personal protective equipment for front-line workers and first responders and how best to protect vulnerable people such as long-term care residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Toronto Public Health is currently monitoring 18 cases of COVID-19.


9:37 a.m.

Government statistics show that Ontario's hospital emergency rooms were already experiencing high wait times in January, the month the first COVID-19 cases began appearing in the province.

That month, patients waited an average of 1.8 hours to first be assessed by a doctor in the emergency department — the longest in the past year.

During the same month, the latest figures that are available, patients ultimately admitted to hospital spent 18.3 hours in emergency — the longest in the past year, tied with January 2019.


9:35 a.m.

Ontario says the province's first wave of dedicated assessment centres for COVID-19 will open in the next several days.

The facilities will be at the Brampton Civic Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, North York General Hospital, Mackenzie Health, Scarborough Health Network and Trillium Health Partners.

More centres are set to open across the province in the coming weeks and will be separate spaces to protect patients in the rest of the hospital.

The province has also approved new physician billing codes for telephone assessments and is launching a provincewide public education campaign with ads on social media, search engines, radio and in print.


9:30 a.m. 

Warner Bros. Television confirms the Vancouver-based production of its series "Riverdale" has been halted due to concerns about COVID-19.

A statement from the studio says it has been informed that a member of the teen drama, which is based on the characters of the Archie comics, was recently in contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

Warner Bros. does not say if the Riverdale staffer is a member of the cast or crew.

The statement says the studio is working with authorities and health agencies in Vancouver to identify and connect with all individuals who may have come into direct contact with its team member, and production is suspended "out of an abundance of caution."


9:11 a.m.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says he's opting not to attend today's First Minister's meeting in Ottawa out of an abundance of caution.

Silver also says a minister in his government has self-isolated and is being tested for COVID-19.

He says Energy, Mines, and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai has taken the measures after attending last week's Prospectors and Developers Convention in Toronto.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory.


9:08 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled a planned appearance at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Trudeau was set to address agency staff at 10:00 a.m. this morning, but the event was cancelled roughly an hour before it was set to begin.

No reason for the cancellation was immediately available.


8:47 a.m.  

A spokeswoman for New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he will not attend the first ministers meeting today in Ottawa now that his province has reported its first presumptive case of COVID-19.

Spokeswoman Nicolle Carlin said this morning Higgs has decided he must stay in New Brunswick.

On Wednesday, Higgs said the Ottawa meeting should be held via teleconference, noting there is a travel ban for New Brunswick government employees as a result of the pandemic.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer, says health officials learned Wednesday that a woman between 50 and 60 years old living in the southeastern area of the province was "minimally symptomatic" after returning from a trip to France.

New Brunswick is the first Atlantic province to report a presumptive case of the disease.



This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2020.





The Canadian Press

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