Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on May 3
Health Canada pauses regulatory approval for COVID-19 rapid test
- Health Canada restricts use of COVID-19 rapid test to research only.
- Provinces set to relax certain lockdown restrictions this week.
- The lives behind the numbers: What we know about the first 1,000 COVID-19 deaths in Canada.
- INTERACTIVE | See the latest data on coronavirus cases in Canada.
- INTERACTIVE | How does Canada compare to the rest of the world?
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca
Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience Inc. is recalling thousands of its newly approved portable units that promised a rapid test for COVID-19 now that Health Canada has suspended the regulatory approval it granted last month.
About 5,500 of the hand-held DNA analyzers, called the Spartan Cube, have been shipped to federal and provincial health agencies since the company gained that approval from Health Canada.
The agency confirmed on Sunday there are now concerns over the devices, designed to give results within an hour, following a report published in the Journal de Montréal, which said the test was found to be less effective than expected.
"In light of the clinical results, Health Canada has placed conditions on the company's authorization to restrict the use of the product to research use only until adequate evidence of clinical performance can be provided. The Spartan product can continue to be used for research purposes only," the agency said in a statement.
WATCH | Restrictions on COVID-19 rapid test 'part of the process,' says minister:
Spartan Bioscience said Health Canada first advised the company on May 1 that the National Microbiology Laboratory had concerns regarding the efficacy of the swab for the testing device.
"The same report indicated no concerns regarding the accuracy and analytical performance of Spartan's test reagents and portable DNA analyzer device," Spartan said, adding that it will be performing additional clinical studies.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in light of the new restrictions on the rapid test kit, it's now up to the provinces to decide whether they can still ease lockdown restrictions this week or whether they need to reopen their economies more slowly.
His government had to take "quick action" to protect Canadians, but that also means "there are going to be new facts that come in," Trudeau told reporters at his briefing in Ottawa on Sunday.
Trudeau kicked off the briefing by announcing his government plans to invest $240 million to create online mental health services. He said the money would be used to create an online platform "with a whole range of services" to ease the pressure on the health-care system.
The prime minister also announced a $175-million investment in a Vancouver-based company's research into treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Trudeau said AbCellera Biologics Inc. has shown promising signs of progress in identifying antibodies that could be used create a vaccine or drugs to counter the respiratory illness.
Also Sunday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter that Canada has tested more than 893,000 people across the country. Tam said an average of more than 24,000 people were tested daily in the past week.
Starting next week, provinces across Canada will begin relaxing lockdown rules, though the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says some businesses may not reopen until they get safety measures in place.
As of 5:30 p.m. ET, Canada had 59,474 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with the majority concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Provinces and territories list 24,921 of the cases as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting lists 3,760 deaths in Canada and two known coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad.
The contagious respiratory illness causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. There is no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus, which first emerged in China in late 2019.
What's happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, a justice advocacy group rallied outside Mission Institution federal prison on Sunday, calling for the urgent care and immediate release of detainees at the coronavirus-hit facility.
The Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee also called for broader testing of all prisoners and daily updates with details of the situation for their family members.
The B.C. government says 133 people at the Mission Institution have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Among those, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says a dozen officers are currently sick. Read more about what's happening in B.C.
In Alberta, a union representing employees at a meat-packing plant says 85 per cent of workers are afraid to return to work in the wake of an outbreak at the facility.
A total of 1,510 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta are now linked to the outbreak at the Cargill plant, located near High River, according to a spokesperson for Alberta Health. Nearly half of the company's 2,000 staff, some 917 workers, have tested positive. Cargill announced plans to reopen Monday after closing the plant on April 20 because a worker died of COVID-19. Read more about what's happening in Alberta.
WATCH | Union fights plans to reopen Alberta's Cargill meat-packing plant Monday:
Saskatchewan announced that its number of cases has climbed to 421, with six new cases recorded on Saturday. Of the new cases included in the update, four are in the North, one is in Saskatoon and one is in Regina. Northern leaders say drastic action may have to be taken unless more people start following public health orders, as they say some people are still trying to go around the restrictions. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba announced one new case on Sunday, bringing its total number of cases to 281. On Monday, the Manitoba government is allowing restaurants to open patios if they follow specific guidelines for physical distancing, which has left owners weighing the pros and cons of taking part. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba.
WATCH | Trumpeters play tribute to Winnipeg hospital staff:
In Ontario, the death toll at an Ottawa long-term care home has risen to 29. Madonna Care Community in Orléans — a suburb in the eastern region of the city — said Sunday another 45 residents have tested positive for the respiratory disease and are currently in isolation
Meanwhile, the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation is set to hold a virtual ceremony on Sunday due to COVID-19 restrictions to honour officers who have died in the line of duty. Read more about what's happening in Ontario.
Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge is telling the province's English-language school boards that they don't have the right to refuse to reopen their elementary schools, saying in an email that the government has the exclusive legal jurisdiction when it comes to deciding when the school year resumes after a pause brought on by the global pandemic.
Last week, the province's English-language school boards' association signalled to the minister that they would reopen "if and when" they believed the situation to be safe, regardless of the government's schedule. Read more about what's happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick is COVID-19-free, according to the province. Officials said Sunday there are no new cases for the 15th day in a row.
Despite the numbers, Premier Blaine Higgs said in a statement Sunday residents should not become complacent and the COVID-19 crisis is not yet over. "We expect to have more cases," Higgs said. "Our province is still under a state of emergency, and we must continue to follow the advice of public health." Read more about what's happening in N.B.
A message from Premier Blaine Higgs. <a href="https://t.co/OcwP92sKCs">pic.twitter.com/OcwP92sKCs</a>—@Gov_NB
Nova Scotia reported two more deaths on Sunday, both at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax. So far, 31 people in the province have died from the virus. However, the number of new cases reported by the province dropped to four, bringing the total number of positive cases to 963. To date, 609 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds took to the skies over the province and neighbouring New Brunswick on Sunday as a salute to all Canadians doing their part to fight COVID-19. Read more about what's happening in N.S.
WATCH | Snowbirds take to Nova Scotia skies:
In Prince Edward Island, Phase 1 of the province's plan to ease restrictions began Friday. P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said the provincial government will continue to emphasize physical distancing, good hygiene and staying home as much as possible. The Island has 27 confirmed cases, but only two since April 8. Read more about what's happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday reported no new cases for the second day in a row. According to a release from the provincial government, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the province remains at 259. There has been only one new case of COVID-19 in the province in the last seven days. Read more about what's happening in N.L.
In Canada's North, all of Yukon's 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered. Meanwhile, a man who planned to move back to his hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T., has been sent back to Edmonton by the territorial government amid COVID-19 restrictions. The territory shut its borders down to non-essential workers and non-residents at the end of March, and also required that all people coming into the territory self-isolate and come up with a government-approved self-isolation plan. Read more about what's happening across the North.
WATCH | Yellowknife's sanitation workers keep working amid pandemic:
What's happening in the U.S.
Sunny days and warm weather are proving to be challenging to manage as about half of U.S. states partially reopen their economies after lockdowns due to coronavirus.
On Saturday, thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington to view a U.S. Navy flyover to honour health-care workers and others battling the pandemic.
In New York City, the warmest weather yet this spring caused picnickers and sunbathers to flock to green spaces in Manhattan, including crowded conditions at Christopher Street Pier in Greenwich Village, according to photos on social media.
Last week, California ordered beaches in Orange County to close, after crowds defied public health guidelines to throng the popular shoreline. That prompted protests by demonstrators who accused the state's Democratic governor of overreach.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there are "some real issues" near the pier and police would increase patrols.
Dr. Deborah Birx, response co-ordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said on Fox News Sunday that congregating on beaches was not safe unless people kept at least six feet apart. She also weighed in against allowing such businesses as beauty salons and spas to reopen in the first phase.
"We've made it clear that that is not a good phase-one activity," she said, as the number of U.S. cases topped 1.1 million and the death toll rose to more than 67,000 on Sunday.
Protesters gathering, as they did last week in Michigan and other parts of the country to demonstrate against stay-at-home restrictions, pose a huge risk, she said.
"It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather who has a co-morbid condition and they have a serious or a very — or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives," Birx said.
Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on Sunday the country was seeing a "mixed bag" of results from coronavirus mitigation efforts. He said there were about 20 states that are seeing a rising number of new cases, including Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Virginia reported a record number of deaths on Sunday, up 44 for a total of 660.
"We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we're just not seeing that," he said on CBS' Face the Nation.
"If we don't snuff this out more and you have this slow burn of infection, it can ignite at any time."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in Massachusetts — which has not begun reopening and is seeing coronavirus cases still climbing and which also issued a statewide order telling people to wear masks in public — said the rallies against coronavirus mitigation efforts were causing confusion and making his job harder.
"I don't understand it. That makes messaging really confusing. ... It's the wrong message, because we're still very much in the beginning days of coronavirus. Even if you're a state that is seeing numbers go down," Walsh said.
"If we're not smart about the way we do things, those numbers could turn around and go right back up again."
WATCH | Angry mob storms Michigan capitol:
As Texas becomes one of the leading states pushing for its businesses to reopen, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said people appear to be obeying the new rules.
"People have not been rushing back into these restaurants and they have not been rushing back into the areas of the economy that the governor reopened on Friday," he told CNN.
"What we are seeing is people sort of putting their toe back in."
What's happening around the world
The number of COVID-19 cases around the world stands at more than 3.5 million with more than 247,000 deaths linked to the virus.
While some countries have seen infection rates flatten, and plans are being made to reduce restrictions, others are beginning to see spikes in the numbers.
New Zealand reported no new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, marking a significant moment that indicated the country's bold strategy of trying to eliminate the virus was working.
It was the first time since the outbreak took hold in mid-March that the country has reported zero new cases.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the figures were clearly encouraging and a cause for celebration but it won't be known until later this week if new cases continue to pop up in the community.
New Zealand closed its borders and imposed a strict monthlong lockdown after the outbreak began.
In China, residents are flocking to tourist sites, many newly reopened, during a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday. Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai's main tourist spots welcomed more than a million visitors, according to Chinese media reports.
The surge comes after a relaxation of domestic travel restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak slows in mainland China and the government tries to reboot the economy. China reported just three new cases in the last two days.
The number of people travelling and visiting sites remains lower than an average year. Many sites are requiring advance reservations and limiting the number of daily visitors to 30 per cent of capacity or less. Popular destinations such as the Forbidden City, the ancient imperial palace in Beijing, are sold out.
In Italy, the number of beds treating COVID-19 patients continued to decline as the country prepared to ease its strict lockdown measures on Monday.
The Civil Protection Agency said there were 212 fewer people hospitalized with the virus and 39 fewer in intensive care in the past 24 hours, numbers that have been consistently easing in recent weeks. That has given authorities confidence to be able to cope with any new spike in cases as more businesses reopen and individuals are allowed more freedom to move around their towns and cities of residence.
At the same time, the number of dead nudged up the most in 11 days — by 474 — and the number of people who have recovered from the virus was the lowest in more than two weeks. Italy has registered the most deaths after the United States, at 28,710.
Slovenia, which borders Italy, on Sunday reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since early March. The country recorded its first case on March 4 and introduced strict lockdown measures. The total reported number of infections in Slovenia stands at 1,439, including 96 deaths.
Britain's Department of Health says a total of 28,131 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the United Kingdom, an increase of 621 from the previous tally.
In India, the Air Force on Sunday conducted flypasts and showered flower petals on hospitals in various cities, including the capital of New Delhi, as part of the Armed Forces' efforts to thank doctors, nurses and police personnel who have been at the forefront of the country's battle against the pandemic.
Coronavirus cases in India have neared the 40,000 mark as the country of 1.3 billion enters the 40th day into a nationwide lockdown. The country's official death toll has exceeded 1,300.
For almost six weeks, Indian officials have sealed state borders, halted transportation and shut airspace and most businesses. The lockdown was supposed to end Monday, but has been extended another two weeks with a few exceptions.
In the Philippines, cases climbed to 9,223 after the country's health ministry reported 295 new infections on Sunday. The ministry also recorded four more deaths related to the virus, bringing the tally to 607.
In Iran, mosques that have been shuttered since mid-March will reopen on Monday in low-risk cities and towns while they adhere to health protocols. Schools were to reopen starting May 16.
Iran's health ministry says the trajectory of infections has started a "gradual" downward trend. On Sunday, the ministry said the country's coronavirus death toll had risen to 6,203 and the total number of diagnosed cases had reached 97,424.
In Spain, people using public transit must wear masks, starting Monday, as the country begins to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Spain has the third highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe after Italy and the U.K. The country has 24,824 deaths from the virus out of 217,00 confirmed infections. Data released on Sunday showed 164 people had died in the previous 24 hours, the lowest one-day increase since March 18.
Russia on Sunday reported 10,633 new cases in the past 24-hours, the country's highest single-day rise so far. More than half of the new cases reported were in Moscow, where concern is rising about whether the capital's medical facilities will be overwhelmed. Russia has recorded more than 134,000 coronavirus infections overall and 1,420 deaths.
WATCH | Russia sees spike in COVID-19 cases:
Afghanistan's public health ministry announced Sunday that 500 random coronavirus tests in the capital revealed more than 150 positive results, raising fears that the virus may be spreading faster than originally thought.
Ministry spokesperson Wahid Mayar called the results from Kabul "concerning" and said people must remain in their homes to slow the spread. He said the country's actual infection rate would likely increase as testing becomes more widely available.
Afghanistan has thus far taken close to 12,000 samples, of which more than 2,700 have been positive, and 85 people have died. Kabul and most other cities are in lockdown.
Yemen's health authorities say there are three new coronavirus cases in the southern city of Aden and the western city of Taiz, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 10 with two deaths. Saturday's announcement comes as the UN health agency has warned of the invisible outbreak of the virus, saying that it's "actively circulating throughout the country." The agency says testing and resources to detect the virus are "grossly insufficient."
Yemen has been embroiled in civil war for more than five years and has a fragile health system, with half of the health facilities not properly functioning.
South Korea says it'll further relax its physical distancing guidelines amid a continued slowdown of new coronavirus cases there. Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 13 additional cases, taking the country's total to 10,793 with 251 deaths.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday the government will allow public facilities to reopen in phases starting Wednesday. He said public parks, outdoor sports and leisure facilities, and museums will reopen earlier than welfare centres, public theatres and concert halls.
Park said schools will have students back to their classrooms in phased steps. Currently, South Korean students are taking classes online.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters