COVID-19 in Canada update: Meat plant worker tests positive; 1 million file for EI

These items are from the Canadian Press and were posted by Black Press Media at 4 p.m., Sunday, March 29.

Here are the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada, as released Sunday afternoon.

There are 6,280 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

  • Quebec: 2,840 confirmed (including 22 deaths, 1 resolved)
  • Ontario: 1,355 confirmed (including 21 deaths, 8 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 884 confirmed (including 17 deaths, 396 resolved)
  • Alberta: 621 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 33 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 156 confirmed (including 3 resolved)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 135 confirmed (including 4 resolved)
  • Nova Scotia: 122 confirmed
  • Manitoba: 25 confirmed (including 1 death), 47 presumptive
  • New Brunswick: 66 confirmed
  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed
  • Prince Edward Island: 11 confirmed
  • Yukon: 4 confirmed
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed
  • Nunavut: No confirmed cases
  • Total: 6,280 (47 presumptive, 6,233 confirmed including 63 deaths, 445 resolved)

More than 1 million Canadians have applied for employment insurance

The chair of the federal cabinet’s COVID-19 response committee, Jean-Yves Duclos, says more than 1 million Canadians have applied for employment insurance because of the crisis.

There have been concerns about the EI system being overwhelmed by claims.

That is why the federal government launched a $52-billion aid package last week that will provide $2,000 per month for four months to Canadians whose livelihoods are affected by COVID-19.

Worker tests positive at Alberta meat plant

CALGARY — The union representing federal meat inspectors says its members will be back at work Monday at a meatpacking plant just north of Calgary if the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is reassured that it’s safe.

Production at family-owned Harmony Beef was halted last Friday after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19 a day earlier. It processes up to 750 head of cattle per day.

The company was notified by Alberta Health that a worker, who hadn’t been on the job for days, had tested positive for the virus. A number of other workers from that area of the plant are self-isolating. The halt in operations was ordered by the CFIA which wouldn’t allow its inspectors to enter the facility.

“There’s been no work refusals from any of the federal food inspectors. They haven’t done that in Alberta to date,” said Fabian Murphy, president of the Agriculture Union.

About 750 of the union’s 4,000 food inspectors work inside meat packing plants.

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency withdrew their services so it was a government agency that said to the plant that they must have a plan in place that’s going to ensure everybody’s safety before they’re allowed to resume full production,” he added.

The plant could reopen Monday if the agency is satisfied.

Feds rolling out help for charities hit hard by COVID-19 economic slowdown

OTTAWA — The federal government signalled Sunday it is shifting the focus of its COVID-19 aid towards Canada’s most vulnerable as public health experts expressed cautious optimism the nation’s physical distancing experiment could be working.

Most Canadians are entering the third week of a COVID-19 slowdown that has them keeping their distance from all but immediate family members, and some provinces are starting to report a slowdown in the rate of new infections.

On Friday British Columbia said its early modelling was suggesting social distancing had cut the spread of the novel coronavirus in half. On Sunday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the daily increase in positive cases “seems to be stabilizing.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Sunday it’s still too early to know what the impact of closing schools and offices and restricting retail services has been on the virus’s spread.

“But next week will be very, very important, for me anyways, in terms of looking at those trends,” she said.

A little more than six per cent of cases so far have required hospitalization, and three per cent are in critical condition. About one-tenth of the hospitalizations occurred in people under the age of 40, a statistic Tam said she cites so people understand that younger Canadians can get very ill from COVID-19.

Doug Ford’s handling of the pandemic draws praise from friends and foes

TORONTO — No aspect of Canadian life has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, including politics, and pundits agree the premier of Ontario is one of those most transformed by the outbreak.

Doug Ford, a divisive player on the regional stage long before becoming an equally polarizing national figure, has been turning heads since it became clear that Canada would not be spared the spread of the novel coronavirus. But many of those heads, once likely to be thrown back in dismay, are now bestowing nods of approval.

Gone is the pugnacious partisanship and populist rhetoric that opponents once used to compare Ford to U.S. President Donald Trump. The premier’s regular briefings have instead drawn widespread plaudits for their calm, collegial tone as well as their comparatively progressive content.

Such an approach, political observers say, differs not only from that demonstrated by like-minded politicians south of the border but from his own past conduct.

“I’m a Liberal, but I’ll give Doug Ford a lot of credit — he’s handling this really well,” said Dan Moulton, vice-president at Crestview Strategy and former senior staff member in the previous Liberal government. “He’s being transparent, responsive, engaging. Ontarians are really seeing him in action.”

Praise from the centre or left of the spectrum has been rare through Ford’s unorthodox and colourful political career.

Five firefighters test positive for coronavirus

Toronto’s firefighter association says five firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.

Toronto Fire Services was not able to say how many firefighters are in isolation as a result of the positive tests.

A spokesman for the fire service says the outbreak has not affected operations.

Six Nations reports two confirmed COVID-19 cases

A southern Ontario First Nation is reporting its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Six Nations of The Grand River says the two patients started self-isolating immediately when they noticed symptoms.

They say they are setting up checkpoints to monitor people who travel in and out of the reserve that is located south of Hamilton.

Elected chief Mark Hill says the move to set up checkpoints represents a drastic step in their response to the virus.

Quebec: Cases appear to be stabilizing

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says there are 2,840 cases of COVID-19 in the province, an increase of 342 over Saturday.

Legault says it’s good news that the number of new cases appears to be stabilizing and hospitalizations remain limited.

The biggest concentrations of cases are in the Montreal and Estrie regions, and Legault says local officials will provide updates in those regions later today.

Sticken cruise ships with Canadians aboard now headed to Fort Lauderdale

Patricia Morrell says her parents are being moved from a coronavirus-infected cruise ship anchored off Panama onto a sister ship this morning.

Four people have died aboard the MS Zaandam and several others have tested positive for COVID-19, while about 150 others have flu-like symptoms.

Global Affairs Canada says there are 248 Canadians aboard the Zaandam, and the Panamanian government said it would allow it and the MS Rotterdam passage through the Panama Canal so they can eventually moor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Morrell says her parents, who are from Ottawa, are relieved that the ships should set sail soon.

Nova Scotia: Three long-term care home workers test positive

Nova Scotia is confirming three workers at separate long-term care homes have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in two days.

The latest positive case involves a worker at the Magnolia residential care home in Enfield.

It is one of 12 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced today by the province, bringing the total to 122.

Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters he’s frustrated by reports of people going to parks and beaches even though they’re closed, calling citizens who do this “the reckless few.”

12:25 p.m.

Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam says some hospitals are trying to reduce what she calls the “burn rate” of protective masks and other equipment as the federal government seeks to obtain more.

Tam was responding to reports some doctors and nurses are reusing their masks because of a shortage of protective gear.

Tam says such measures make sense to ensure masks and other needed resources are not wasted before more can be obtained.

Deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo says the federal government is in the process of purchasing more ventilators for COVID-19 patients, but it is too early to say how many will be needed.

Coronavirus

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