Opening border could ‘waste’ Canada’s efforts, vaccine may not be available until 2021, health official warns

Health

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As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians seem to be increasingly concerned about their health and safety

Currently, there are more than 107,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada and more than 8,700 deaths.

Check back for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Canada.

For a full archive of the first month of the pandemic, please check our archive of events.

July 14

1:15 p.m.: Spikes in COVID-19 cases ‘almost inevitable’

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said it is “very encouraging” that there are over 100 vaccine candidates around the word but stressed there are many different steps ahead to develop a safe, effective vaccine.

“Other studies have also shown…if someone has been infected with the COVID-19 infection, that the natural immunity is not very long-lasting, maybe a few weeks, several months or so,” Dr .Njoo said. “Certainly not something that we can count on in terms of over time getting that so called population herd immunity, just based on natural infection.”

“That’s why vaccine development I think is going to be very, very important…Most scientists, being very optimistic, might think that if there were to be a vaccine it wouldn’t be before 2021.”

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said that as public health measures continue to relax across Canada it is “almost inevitable” that there will be spikes in cases, clusters of cases.

“If you have the capacity in place then you’re able to actually manage it well and see if there are lessons learned from why those clusters and cases did occur, to maybe see if there are might be some other adjustments you might be able to implement moving forward,” Dr. Njoo said.

‘I would not be specifically going to a bar’

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer commented on COVID-19 spread at bars, most recently reported in Quebec. He said these areas can be of particular concern because of the increased risk of transmission in indoor spaces where there is poor ventilation.

“The fact that people might be there for a prolonged period of time, duration of exposure is also a key factor,” Dr. Njoo said. “I would not be specifically going to a bar.”

“After one or two drinks, people might feel less inhibited and certainly if you go in with good intentions in terms of wearing your mask and social distancing and so on, who knows after one or two drinks if that might change.”

Health official still cautious of loosening restrictions at Canada-U.S. border

Dr. Njoo stressed that public health officials continue to look at the epidemiology in Canada and the U.S. to provide guidance on possible future travel opportunities between the two countries. He said Canadians have done a good job at flattening the curve of the virus and he does not want Canada to “waste those efforts” by reintroducing COVID-19.

“The situation in Canada and the U.S., I would say from a pure epidemiological point of view, is vastly different…The situation doesn’t appear to be changing quickly in the U.S,” he said. 

July 13

6:30 p.m. COVID-19 questions of the day

5:00 p.m.: Alberta premier says federal government is preventing Apple from fixing issue with contact tracing app

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the federal government is Apple from working with the province to resolve an issue with its existing contact tracing app.

Currently, the ABTraceTogether app requires Apple users to have the app open on the phone the whole time to operate properly.

“Unfortunately, the Government of Canada has told Google and Apple to not work with the Government of Alberta…on improving the Trace Together app,” Kenney said. “They’ve done so because they say they want cooperation on a single national platform.”

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC) has identified concerns about the need to have the app running in the foreground of an individual’s phone.

“Given the need to run ABTraceTogether in the foreground on Apple devices, there is a security risk,” Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton said in a statement. “Running the app on Apple devices requires a device to remain unlocked, which significantly increases risk in case of theft or loss.”

Alberta’s premier said he will continue to request that the government not put a “barrier” in the way of fixing the contact tracing app.

“We have made repeated requests for the federal government to remove their barrier, their objection to Google, Apple and other major tech companies working directly with us to improve the functionality of the app,” Kenney said.

20 million free masks for Albertans

Although the provincial government is not making masks mandatory, Alberta will make 20 million free masks available province-wide.

They will be available at more than 700 partner restaurants. A&W, McDonald’s Canada, and Tim Hortons partner restaurants are handing out eight masks per person.

Four million masks are being provided to 20 transit systems in Alberta and 7-Eleven Canada has donated logistics support to deliver these masks to each transit service.

Long-term care and supportive living, seniors facilities, community groups, social service organizations, libraries, court houses and places of worship will also be distributing masks.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is “strongly recommending” that people in the province wear a mask in public spaces.

“Wearing a mask is a common sense precaution,” she said.

3:30 p.m.: Large droplets still the primary source of COVID-19 spread

On the day the Ontario government announced Stage 3 of its reopening plan, the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said there could be a way for businesses excluded from the next stage of reopening to participate.

Dr. Williams indicated any business is able to submit a plan to health officials and if it is deemed adequate to keep customers and employees safe, they may be able to resume operations in some capacity.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the province continues to see a downward trend in cases, most recently coming from Toronto, Peel, York, Windsor-Essex and Ottawa regions.

She also spoke about recent reports that airborne transmission of COVID-19 may be possible, indicating droplet spread continues to be the main concern, but the science is evolving.

“The bottom line is that our real-life evidence has shown that this is almost virtual entirely transmitted through large droplets,” Dr. Yaffe said. “If it were aerosolized, we would be having widespread outbreaks way more than we’ve had.”

“What it does show is there’s the theoretical possibility for very small particles to remain in the air for a while and that is a big issue for medical procedures that generation aerosols. For example, when you’re inserting a tube to ventilate a patient or you’re suctioning a patient.”

Dr. Yaffe said this also stressed the importance of having good ventilation in a shared space, even if physical distancing is being maintained and masks are being worn.

3:00 p.m.: Masks to become mandatory in Quebec

Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced masks will mandatory in all indoor public places beginning on Saturday, Jul. 18.

The new rule applies to anyone age 12 and older. Masks are recommended for younger people but it is not mandatory. There is also an exception for people who cannot wear a mask due to an existing medical condition.

Business owners can be fined between $400 and $6,000 for not enforcing these rules in their establishment.

Premier Legault also reminded people in Quebec that only gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed in the province.

“We’re not going to put all of Quebec at risk because of a few big parties,” he said.

1:40 p.m.: Parts of Ontario to move into Stage 3 on Friday

The Ontario government has announced parts of the province will be able to move into Stage 3 of reopening on Friday. These regions are:

  • Algoma Public Health

  • Brant County Health Unit

  • Chatham-Kent Public Health

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit

  • Grey Bruce Health Unit

  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

  • Huron Perth Public Health

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health

  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

  • Middlesex-London Health Unit

  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

  • Northwestern Health Unit

  • Ottawa Public Health

  • Peterborough Public Health

  • Porcupine Health Unit

  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts

  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services

  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit

  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit

  • Southwestern Public Health

  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit

  • Timiskaming Health Unit

  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

This excludes: 

  • Toronto Public Health

  • York Region Public Health

  • Peel Public Health

  • Hamilton Public Health Services

  • Halton Region Public Health

  • Durham Region Health Department

  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

  • Lambton Public Health

  • Niagara Region Public Health

  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Government of Ontario
Government of Ontario

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said provincial officials will provide updates every Monday on where these remaining regions stand in terms of being able to move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 of reopening.

Some businesses and services that will be able to resume operations in some areas on Friday include:

  • Dine-in services at restaurants, bars

  • Gyms and fitness centres

  • Additional personal care services (ex. facials, ear piercing, eyebrow grooming and eyelash extensions)

  • Live shows, performing arts, movie theatres, live sporting events (with gathering limits)

  • Casinos (with gathering limits)

  • Playgrounds

  • Tour and guide services

Outdoor gathering limits will be increased to 100 people and indoor gathering will be allowed with up to 50 people present, but physical distancing practices will still be in place. The social circle limit of 10 people will remain.

Beginning on Jul. 27, child care centres can operate with cohorts of 15 children, which the province indicates brings the child care sector to about 90 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 operating capacity.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott indicated it is expected that more Stage 3 measures will remain for some time, possibly until there is a vaccine available, but if the province is able to keep case numbers down with no new outbreaks, provincial officials may allow for gradually expanding things like the size of gatherings.

Businesses and services that are still not considered safe for Stage 3 of reopening includes:

  • Amusement parks and water parks

  • Buffet-style food services

  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements

  • Overnight stays at camps for children

  • Private karaoke rooms

  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports

  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars

  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments

12:30 p.m.: ‘I made a mistaken in not recusing myself’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Monday for not recusing himself from discussions about using the WE charity to administer the $900 million student grant program.

“I made a mistaken in not recusing myself immediately from the discussions given our family’s history,” Trudeau said. “I’m sincerely sorry about not having done that.”

“I’m particularly sorry because not only has it created unnecessary controversy and issues, it also means that young people who are facing a difficult time right now, getting summer jobs, contributing to their communities, are going to have to wait a little longer before getting those opportunities to serve, and that’s frustrating.”

The prime minister went on to confirm the WE charity has paid back the money it received to work on the grant program and the government will be finding another organization to execute administer volunteer placements for students.

“In this situation the mistake that we made was on me and I take responsibility for it,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to work very, very hard to deliver the programs that young people, indeed all Canadians need to get through this historic pandemic.”

When asked if he knew that his mother and brother were getting paid by WE, the prime minister said “it is not surprising” that they did.

“I was very aware that members of my family have worked with and contributed to the WE organization but I was unaware of the details of the remuneration and I should have, and I regret that,” he said. “What I also deeply regret is the fact that I have brought my mother into this situation in a way that is really unfair to her.”

“I should have been thoughtful enough to recuse myself completely from any discussions around WE because of these connections from the very beginning, and I did not.” 

10:30 a.m.: Details on Ontario’s Stage 3 of reopening to come

The Ontario government is expected to announce plans for Stage 3 of the province’s reopening.

This means “reopening most remaining workplaces and community spaces, while carefully and gradually lifting restrictions,” the existing information on the government’s website reads.

Government of Ontario
Government of Ontario

Stage 3 is also expected to include more relaxing of gathering rules, while large public gatherings, like festivals and concerts, will likely still be prohibited.

With Ontario using a regional approach to move into Stage 2, people in the province will also be watching to see how the next phase differs across the province.

July 10

2:00 p.m.: ‘Not right now’ Ontario’s premier says to American visitors

At a press conference in Woodbridge, Ont. on Friday, premier Doug Ford stressed he does not want Americans coming to Ontario for recreational purposes.

“As long as the goods and products are flowing…not right now,” Ford said. “Come and visit us when things cool out and calm down.”

The premier said he spoke to a doctor recently about when the second wave of COVID-19 may hit. Ford shared that the doctor said it would happen “as soon as you open up the border to international travel,” which still remains a concern for the premier.

‘Ontario Made’ program

The Ontario government announced it is supporting the launch of the Ontario Made program from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

“Promoting locally made products will be essential to building a strong, self-sufficient province and key to our economic recovery,” Ford said in a statement.

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Ontario, the premier has pushed for a “made in Ontario” solution to produce essential supplies, while also urging people in the province to support local businesses during this difficult economic time.

Now a new Ontario Made logo will be created and added on products in an effort to help consumers identify products made locally.

July 9

7:15 p.m.: COVID-19 polls of the day

7:00 p.m.: B.C.’s top doctor says some public health measures will have to be in place until there is a vaccine, effective treatment

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, continues to remind people that COVID-19 is far from over, although the province has successfully flattened its curve to this point.

“I know some people may be thinking this is all over and that they can relax, and go back to normal,” Dr. Henry said. “But until effective treatment or a vaccine is available we know that this virus is going to circulate in our communities.”

“Things can quickly escalate once again if we let our guard down too far.”

In order to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections, the province is developing a number of scenarios based on existing attack rates in B.C. Dr. Henry said the goal is to make sure the province doesn’t have to go back to shutting everything down.

“When I talk about the dynamic compartmental modelling that shows us needing to be at a balance of about 65 per cent of our contacts, that’s what we need to continue for the fall, into next year, until we either have an effective treatment or a vaccine,” she said.

Dr. Henry expects to be able to present some information based on research protocols for antibody testing later next week. She said the challenge to date has been the validity of the tests, with false negative and false positive rates quite high.

“When prevalence, the number of people who truly have it in the population, is low that can make a real difference,” she said.

This has required the province to use more than one test to validate every positive result.

Dr. Henry said the first part of the protocol has been completed, using anonymous samples from individuals who gave blood for other reasons. There was also community based sample taken in March and the end of May.

“Very few people have become affected at a population level,” Dr. Henry said.

5:15 p.m.: Quebec tightens measures for bars

The Quebec government is making changes to rules for bars after COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to these venues.

Although case counts from gatherings at bars in Quebec are still being determined, Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health, said about 66 cases are from the Montérégie area, and around 25 cases are from other locations.

“If we don’t act, those 66 are going to generate another 120, it’s going to be more and more,” Dr. Arruda said.

Health minister Christian Dubé said as of Jul. 10, bars must stop selling alcoholic beverages at 12:00 a.m. and will have to be closed to customers at 1:00 a.m.

The number of people who can be at a bar at one time is being reduced to 50 per cent of their legal capacity and dancing is prohibited, everyone must be seated when consuming alcohol.

Dubé said police officers will be stationed around busy bar areas.

“We need everyone to work together on this, including bar owners and their clients,” the health minister said. “We will, as a government, continue to closely monitor the situation and we will not hesitate to take further action, if required.”

Dr. Arruda explained people in Quebec will voluntarily be able to give their contact information to bars and if a COVID-19 case is identified in that setting, public health will be able to reach them for contact tracing purposes.

“This is confidential information,” he said. “It’s only used if there is a case, nobody is going to ask to have access to this information unless there is a case.”

4:30 p.m.: Many Ontario cases still linked to farms in Windsor-Essex

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, indicated that of the 170 new COVID-19 cases in the province, 86 are from Windsor-Essex, while 27 and from Toronto and 28 from Peel.

Dr. Williams said most cases in Windsor-Essex are from two or three farms, and at least 76 cases are farm workers.

“We may have a day where we actually have less than 100 for the province,” Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said. “And in essence, in one way we do, but in consideration of a very much sequestered outbreak that put us well over.” 

“I’d like to see us continue to have some days reported under 100 [cases].”

When asked if there is a chance that large gathering, like arena concerts, would be able to happen before there is COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Williams stressed these gathering are very risky.

“We’re open to some ideas but…those are certainly high risk events that we have very little control over,” he said.

Dr. Williams added that physical distancing would have to be in place, which would also require a financial consideration for the business operating the event.

2:50 p.m.: B.C. premier expresses ‘optimism’ on COVID-19 situation, confidence about fall school year

B.C. Premier John Horgan said there are “great reasons for optimism” in the province as there continues to be “relatively low” numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

“Our approach…from the beginning has been coping with the virus,” Horgan said. “Dr. Henry has been pretty clear, it’s here and it’s going to be here until we find a way to eradicate it.”

“In the the interim, we have to find ways to manage and cope with the disease. We’re under no illusion that COVID-19 is gone.”

The premier went on to say he believes bringing students back to school in June has made B.C. “better prepared for September than any other province in the country,” because education officials will have a benchmark to compare to, district by district.

“I listened to the president of the United States talk about his fountain of wisdom and knowledge on what’s best for public education in the United States, and I say I would prefer to talk to school board trustees, superintendents, teachers and parents about what’s in the best interest of their kids,” Horgan said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”

‘They are not coming this year’

B.C.’s premier said he appreciates that some businesses want restrictions at Canada’s borders to be eased, but maintained that public health is still of the utmost importance.

“They are not coming this year,” Horgan said about international tourists. “It is not just because Canada has said we don’t want to see our border open until we see other countries in the world having the same level of success.”

“This is a global pandemic and I think that we need to remind ourselves of that periodically. I don’t think the dollars that would be invested in the tourist economy are worth the risk to public health.”

1:50 p.m.: Ontario education minister still asking parent to prepare for three different schooling options for September

After being asked several questions about what parents should prepare for in September, Ontario’s Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, maintains school boards across the province must be prepared for three circumstances: online learning, conventional in-class learning and a hybrid model.

“The preference is everyday, convention in-class delivery,” Lecce said. “But the prerequisite has to be safety.”

When asked if parents should begin having a conversation with their employer about the possibility of needing to be home more if at-home learning continues in September, Lecce reiterated that the ministry is working with the chief public health officer to determine a safe way to educate children in Ontario in the fall.

Questions remain about what Stage 3 of reopening will look like

At a press conference on Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked what businesses and services will be able to resume in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan.

The premier said the specifics still need to be determined with the provincial health table.

“I don’t have a list in front of me to give you exactly what’s opening,” Ford said. “I want to make sure the health table approves it.”

“It’s going to come very shortly, hopefully sooner than later.”

July 8

6:00 p.m.: COVID-19 questions of the day

6:15 p.m.: ‘Community exposure events’ continue in B.C.

In a written statement from Adrian Dix, B.C.’s Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, they confirmed there are no new outbreaks in the province but “community exposure events” continue to occur.

“There has been a community exposure event at the No. 5 Orange nightclub in the Vancouver Coastal Health region,” the statement reads. “Public health teams have issued an alert for anyone who may have been at the premises on July 1.”

The health officials went on to stress that “one slip” can cause a surge of COVID-19 cases and avoiding crowded, closed spaces continues to be important.

“This summer, we can travel within our province, we can enjoy many activities and we can spend time with friends and family,” the statement goes on to say. “We can do this safely by all of us doing our part to keep our curve flat.”

5:00 p.m.: Outbreak at Edmonton hospital

Alberta Health Services has reported Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton is under a full facility COVID-19 outbreak.

In order to manage the risks of spreading the virus further, all services will be temporarily close to incoming patients and no patients will be admitted to the hospital. Patients within the hospital will continue to receive the treatment.

At a press conference on Wednesday Dr. David Zygun, medical director with Alberta Health Services, Edmonton zone, said it is too early to know how long these measures will be in place at the hospital as the contact tracing is still ongoing.

“In general, we are in the timeframe of weeks before it resolves,” Dr. Zygun said. “We’re obviously in hours of this stage, and it will really depend on the progression of the outbreak and the cases we identify.”

He indicated the initial wards impacted were medical wards and the hospital will maintain single-sight workers moving forward.

As of Wednesday morning, 20 patients and 15 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Three deaths linked to the outbreak have occurred, all of the individuals were patients.

4:00 p.m.: Ontario introduces new economic recovery legislation

The Ontario government introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, which would change several pieces of legislation in an effort to boost economic recovery.

This includes changes to the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act that will allow municipalities to hold virtual meetings, and council members will be able to vote by proxy when absent. It would also amend the Education Act, including broadening the qualification requirements for Director of Education positions and would provide a second-year option for all first-year demonstration school students during the upcoming school year.

It would also amend the Marriage Act, including extensions to the validity of marriage licenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all Ontarians and created significant hardship for individuals, families and businesses,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “People are relying on our government to help rebuild the province and get people back to work ― and that’s exactly what we’re doing, starting with this new legislation.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ford also commented on calls from municipalities for the provincial government to provide more financial assistance. The premier said he is “leading the charge for municipalities” on calls between Canada’s premiers and the federal government.

Ford said he is pushing the federal government to come up with a “fair deal” related to the $14 billion promised by the prime minister for provinces.

“I’m not happy with where we’re going right at this point,” Ford said, adding that Ontario accounts for 38 per cent of the population and should get 38 per cent of the funds being distributed by the federal government.

“I’m not even asking them for more than $14 billion, even though I don’t think it’s enough,” the premier said. “Give us the flexibility and give us per capita and we have a deal.”

1:00 p.m.: Up to 8,900 COVID-19 deaths could occur in Canada by July 17

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Newly released short-term forecasting of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates Canada could see between 106,015 and 111,260 cases by Jul. 17. Additionally, up to 8,900 deaths (approximately 200 more than today) could occur by the same date.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, indicated Ontario and Quebec have made up more than 80 per cent of cases in the country to date.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Looking at the number of cases per 100,000 people across Canada, Ontario and Quebec are still seeing the most, with a significant number of cases identified in northern Saskatchewan, relative to their population size.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Hotspots for COVID-19 cases include Toronto and Montreal, both having large populations and many cases linked to community transmission. Alberta and Saskatchewan have also seen a high number of cases, linked to localized outbreaks.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said there has been a “steady decline” in COVID-19 cases since the peak in late April.

“We have been able to impact the pandemic, control transmission nationally and benign the process of entering the next phase of monitoring and preventing a resurgence,” Dr. Njoo said. “I think overall, we’ve done an excellent job.”

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

The effective reproduction number in Canada, how many people have been infected by each new case, has fluctuated above one recently, but remained fairly steady below one for the course of the last 10 weeks. Dr. Njoo indicated this number needs to consistently remain below one to indicate a slowdown of spread.

He added that as the case numbers continues to decrease, it is “likely” the effective reproduction number will fluctuate rapidly.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

The number of COVID-19 cases in Canada’s most elderly has significantly declined since April. However, the decline has been particularly slow in 20 to 39 year-olds since late May.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said contact tracing is an important component of preventing the spread of COVID-19, indicating the sooner cases can be identified and isolated, the fewer people they may infect.

The proportion of unknown sources of infection continues to decrease in Canada, which will assist in preventing a surge in infections.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Although Canada is “down the right side of the first peak,” Dr. Njoo said it continues to be important for people across the country to remain vigilant with existing public health measures, particularly while a vaccine is not available. He said if Canada relaxes measures “too much or too soon” the country will see a rapid rebound in COVID-19 cases.

Is COVID-19 airborne?

Dr. Njoo also spoke about recent reports that COVID-19 is airborne, saying the evidence in fact does not classify this particular virus as an airborne disease, based on the medical definition.

“For those of us working in medicine and public health, airborne has a very specific meaning,” he said. “Airborne diseases, usually a very infectious disease in which…the particles, or the virus in this case, can linger in the air for several hours and days and then people can become infected.”

“Let’s say someone who had the virus…left the room and several hours later someone else came into that room and then breathed in the air, they could also get infected. From the evidence, what we’ve seen from the epidemiology and so on, to this point there’s no evidence that COVID-19 is airborne.”

Dr. Njoo indicated a classic example of an airborne disease in measles, which has an effective reproductive number of around 18. Influenza has an effective reproductive number of about one or two, while the early evidence for COVID-19 shows it’s effective reproductive number is up to five.

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer explained the main mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through droplets transmitted in the air when people cough, talk or sing. Many of the droplets are “quite large” and fall to the ground within two metres of an individual, in most cases.

He added that there is a gradient of droplet size and some of the smaller droplets will fall to the ground at a greater distance than larger droplets

11:40 a.m.: Canada’s COVID-19 situation is ‘stabilizing’

Ahead of new national modelling data being released Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said COVID-19 cases in Canada continue to decline.

“The situation is stabilizing in Canada because Canadians did their part and followed public health instructions,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister stressed the COVID-19 situation can quickly change and hotspots still exist in particular areas, including long-term care facilities and agriculture settings.

“We have to remain vigilant, we have to keep following public health advice,” Trudeau said.

‘We took on debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to’

The federal government will share an economic and fiscal snapshot later on Wednesday, which will outline Canada’s economic health as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

The prime minister said when this crisis first hit, many Canadians were quickly left without a job and were worried about paying their bills. He said the government had two options, sit back and let Canadians “fend for themselves” or choose to support Canadians.

“We shouldn’t forget that the cost of doing nothing would have been far more to both our health care and our economy,” Trudeau said. “We took on debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to.”

“I know there are people out there who said we should have done less but I think that’s wrong. Now was the time for the federal government to step up and help Canadians during a historic crisis.”

In advance of the release of the economic and fiscal snapshot, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke about the anticipated information, indicating that some reports anticipate this year’s deficit will be $300 billion.

“What we haven’t heard yet is whether or not the Liberals actually have a plan to help get Canadians back to work and our economy back on track,” Sheer said. “Justin Trudeau has made major mistakes and has been slow to act, and his failures have cost Canadians dearly.”

The Conservative Leader said Canadians have been “falling through the cracks” as the federal government was slow to implement and adjust its aid programs during the pandemic.

10:45 a.m.: Curve continues to flatten in Indigenous communities

On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) shared that the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indigenous communities continues to flatten.

As of July 6, there have been 324 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 30 hospitalizations and 274 cases have recovered on First Nations communities.

As of July 3, 1,009 orders for PPE, including hand sanitizers, N95 masks, isolation shields, and gloves were shipped.

“ISC continues to quickly process PPE requests, as effectively as possible, to ensure communities are ready to respond to COVID-19, and to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and others supporting the delivery of health services,” the statement reads.

The federal government continues to recommend the following precautions be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within these communities.

  • Avoiding all non-essential trips in the community

  • Limiting the size of group gatherings

  • Keeping a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others when away from home

  • Wearing a non-medical mask when physical distancing is not possible

  • Limiting contact with people at higher risk, such as Elders and those in poor health, or with underlying health conditions

“As we look ahead with cautious optimism, the priority remains supporting Indigenous leaders as they work to protect the health, safety and prosperity of communities,” the ISC said in a statement.

July 7

5:00 p.m.: P.E.I.’s top doctor strengthens mask recommendation

Dr. Heather Morrison, the chief public health officer of Prince Edward Island, is strengthening the recommendation for people in the province to wear a non-medical mask as the COVID-19 virus persists.

“Up to this point, it has been my recommendation to consider wearing a non-medical mask in places where physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained,” Dr. Morrison said. “I’m strongly recommending that individuals wear a non-medical mask or face covering in indoor public settings when they are unable to maintain a physical distance of six feet.”

“We know that masks are effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and serve to protect others around us.”

P.E.I.’s chief public health officer stressed wearing a mask alone with not prevent the spread of COVID-19, and consistently practicing good hygiene and following public health measures is important. Dr. Morrison said everyone should wash their hands before putting on a mask, before taking off a mask and again once it has been removed.

3:00 p.m.: Ontario proposes new legislation to amend, extend emergency orders

The Ontario government has introduced proposed legislation that would allow the province to extend and amend emergency orders for one year, or up to two years if extended, with plans to end the state of emergency declaration at the end of the month.

Premier Ford said this proposed legislation would allow the provincial government to “move quickly” on issues as the world moves through the COVID-19 pandemic, like working rules in long-term care facilities, guidance around gathering sizes and closure of certain spaces.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said this would allow the government to “react and respond quickly,” with the understanding that certain restrictions are still needed in order to protect people in Ontario.

Gathering sizes, testing capacity to increase

Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott said the number of people who can gather is expected to increase when the province moves into Stage 3 of reopening, but specifics around that number are still being worked out.

“You will be able to expect, as time goes on, that the numbers of people involved in a gathering can be increased,” Elliott said.

The health minister also indicated the provincial government will continue to increase its testing capacity, particularly as the summer season transitions to the fall flu season.

“We know that our testing volumes will need to increase as people will unfortunately fall ill, they won’t know if it’s flu or if it’s COVID-19, then they will be going to the assessment centres,” Elliott said.

‘You don’t go to someone’s house’

Premier Ford also responded to renters in Toronto protesting Bill 184 outside Mayor John Tory’s condo building.

Protesters are arguing the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act would allow landlords to evict tenants who could not pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and takes away the requirement of a Landlord Tenant Board hearing to negotiate rent repayments.

“You don’t go to someone’s house. It’s not fair to the neighbours, it’s not fair to the people in the neighbourhood,” Ford said. “If you want to protest, come down here, protest all day long, come out to city hall.”

“We do have protections for tenants. We’re going after landlords if someone has been wrongfully kicked out of their apartment or condo, whatever it is. I think, politically, they’re spinning it but I’m going to protect the tenants.” 

How do you feel about Canada’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic? Tell us in the comments below?

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