Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on May 18
World Health Organization begins holding 2 days of video conference talks
- Snowbirds flyovers to lift spirits during pandemic suspended after crash.
- Provinces and territories prepare for varying reopening plans.
- 1st Canadian clinical trials for a potential vaccine now approved.
- Travel spending could drop by nearly 60 per cent this year across Canada.
- Some Quebec travel restrictions lifted, but caution still advised.
- British Columbia will allow voluntary return to classrooms on June 1.
- Ontario will begin Stage 1 of reopening on May 19.
- INTERACTIVE | See the latest data on coronavirus cases in Canada.
The decision-making body of the World Health Organization has begun holding two days of video conference talks, the first since the coronavirus pandemic began in China late last year, and Canada is among several countries urging that Taiwan be given observer status.
A letter to the World Health Assembly signed by diplomats from Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Japan and the United States says its exclusion of Taiwan has created a serious public health concern during the COVID-19 crisis.
The letter to WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus points to Taiwan's early success at controlling the pandemic, echoing a report released last week by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an agency of the U.S. Congress. That report also said Taiwan's continued exclusion from the WHO is "jeopardizing global health" and that Beijing ignored Taiwan's early requests for information about the pandemic.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and wants the world to heed its "one-China policy." Beijing has blocked Taiwan from attending the meeting since the 2016 election of independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
WATCH | Push for inquiry 'significant' amid U.S.-China friction:
Tedros on Monday said he will begin an independent evaluation of the UN health agency's response to the pandemic "at the earliest appropriate moment," making the pledge after an independent oversight advisory body of the WHO published its first interim report about the response from January to April.
The 11-page report raises questions such as whether WHO's warning system for alerting the world to outbreaks is adequate, and suggested member states might need to "reassess" WHO's role in providing travel advice to countries.
More than 100 countries at the World Health Assembly, including Canada, have backed a resolution drafted by the European Union that calls for an "independent and comprehensive" investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and the WHO's responses to the virus that first emerged in China late last year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told the conference his country would support such a review, saying it should be conducted in an "objective and impartial manner."
Tragedy marks Operation Inspiration
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Sunday night expressing condolences following the crash of a Snowbirds jet that was part of Operation Inspiration, a series of flyovers across the country to salute Canadians and front-line workers during the pandemic.
"For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times," Trudeau said.
"Every day, they represent the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication. Their flyovers across the country put a smile on the faces of Canadians everywhere and make us proud."
WATCH | Capt. Jennifer Casey dies in Snowbirds jet crash:
The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, survived Sunday's crash. But public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey was killed when the plane went down shortly after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C.
The Defence Department said the flyovers have been suspended until further notice.
Trudeau is on a two-day break from his daily briefings on the pandemic, but will resume the updates on Tuesday. He will speak with the Queen on Monday, as well as participate in a roundtable over the phone with small business operators from his Papineau riding in Montreal to discuss the impacts of COVID-19, the Prime Minister's Office said.
Statistical milestone with recoveries
The number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has increased over this holiday weekend, but there appear to be some positive signs. The number of new daily cases has averaged less than 1,200 for the past week, a rate not seen since early April.
In addition, more than half of all known cases of COVID-19 in the country had either been recovered or resolved as of Sunday, according to a tally by CBC News.
As of 7:30 p.m. ET Monday, Canada has had a total of 78,072 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 39,251 of those considered recovered, according to a CBC News tally. That's based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC's reporting. The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Canada is 5,943. There are two known fatalities of Canadians abroad.
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 1,319,987 people for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a>, w\ an average ~5.4% positive overall. In recent weeks, an average of 26-28,000 people are tested daily (w\ ~4% +ve) as <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/publichealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#publichealth</a> continues to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TestandTrace?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TestandTrace</a>.—@CPHO_Canada
As Canada reached the statistical milestone on Sunday regarding recoveries, provinces were preparing to ease more restrictions in the coming week.
Ontario will enter its first stage of reopening on May 19 by lifting restrictions on certain retailers and the construction industry. Some surgeries will also resume.
As part of the province's reopening plans, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures in place.
Pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments can also begin again in Stage 1. The Ontario government is expected to announce on Tuesday when schools and child-care centres might be able to reopen.
British Columbia's government will also allow a partial reopening of the province's economy starting Tuesday. However, the reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. While many provincial parks in B.C. are now open for day use, officials are still discouraging unnecessary travel.
In New Brunswick, licensed daycares can begin reopening Tuesday. And while children will not have to wear masks, they will be separated into small groups as a safety precaution.
Meanwhile, Alberta welcomed the arrival of the Victoria Day weekend by increasing the limit for outdoor gatherings to 50 people — up from 15 — as long as members of different households stay two metres apart.
While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe illness or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19.
Here's what's happening in the provinces and territories:
Newfoundland and Labrador marked its 11th straight day without new cases on Monday. There are still eight active cases remaining in the province, as 249 people have recovered from the virus. Active cases are the total cases minus recovered cases and deaths. Read more about what's happeneing in N.L.
Nova Scotia on Monday reported three new cases of COVID-19 and eight more recoveries. There are now 1,043 confirmed cases, 946 recoveries and 42 active cases.
The province is entering the second phase of reopening, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang announced late last week. The province is introducing an immediate-family bubble, which would let two households come together without physical distancing. Read more about what's happening in N.S.
There are 2 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors' facilities in NS with active cases. Northwood in Halifax has 25 residents and nine staff active cases. One other facility has one resident with an active case.—@nsgov
New Brunswick is not reporting any new cases for a 12th consecutive day on Monday.
The province is in the so-called orange phase of its recovery plan aimed at reopening businesses and activities while working to prevent a resurgence of transmission. Read more about what's happening in New Brunswick.
In Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. National Park will remain closed to visitors through the remainder of the Victoria Day weekend, but many businesses and services are preparing to reopen on May 22. The province has had no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 19 days. Read more about what's happening to get life in P.E.I. back to normal.
Physical distancing is still very important.<br>Up to 5 visitors inside, 10 outside - <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayApart?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StayApart</a> <br>No buffets or pot-luck group meals. No sharing food, plates, cutlery.<br>Reconsider visits with anyone at higher risk of severe illness<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RenewPEITogether?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RenewPEITogether</a><a href="https://t.co/sQ2DZhbwPK">https://t.co/sQ2DZhbwPK</a> <a href="https://t.co/CbFHkSeoV5">pic.twitter.com/CbFHkSeoV5</a>—@InfoPEI
Quebec Premier François Legault said Monday that retail stores in the Montreal area will reopen on May 25 and daycares around the city will open one week later on June 1. Legault said the decision was taken after receiving encouraging numbers about the COVID-19 situation in Montreal. The 34 new deaths announced Monday is the lowest that figure has been in more than a month.
Meanwhile, travel restrictions are being lifted today in parts of the province. While gatherings are still banned, police checkpoints in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions, as well as in Charlevoix and Charlevoix-Est MRCs, have been removed. Travel between Gatineau and Ottawa is also now allowed. Read more about what's happening in Quebec.
Ontario surpassed 2,000 deaths on Monday. Using data from local public health units, a CBC News tally puts the provincial death toll at 2,005. The province has seen 22,957 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, of which more than 17,000 are considered recovered. Read more about what's happening in Ontario.
Manitoba confirmed a new case on Monday after not reporting any for six straight days. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba.
Saskatchewan on Monday says it reported no new cases in the province for the first time since March 15. The province said 11 more people have recovered from COVID-19 as of Monday, bringing the total active cases to 131.
In Regina, the city's public library laid off 100 workers — more than half its workforce. Libraries have been closed since March 16 because of the pandemic. Now, only about 80 library workers still have their jobs. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.
No new <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19SK?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19SK</a> cases today for the first time since March 15th.<br><br>11 more recoveries, reducing the number of active cases to 131. <a href="https://t.co/XJmUoUEbjS">pic.twitter.com/XJmUoUEbjS</a>—@PremierScottMoe
Alberta reported 39 new cases across the province and one additional death on Monday. The total number of active cases in Alberta now stands at 1,036, nearly 30 fewer active cases than the province's last count on Sunday.
Meanwhile, an air-ambulance service based in Medicine Hat that services southern Alberta says it might have to scale back or cease operations, saying the pandemic has decimated its ability to fundraise and it relies on donations and fee-for-service payments from the province to stay in the air. Read more about what's happening in Alberta.
British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned that as the province on Tuesday moves into Phase 2 of its pandemic response, the potential for a flare-up of cases will increase.
"Only you know your own risk for your family or your business," Henry said Monday, imploring people to evaluate whether they are immuno-compromised or taking care of someone who is elderly or otherwise vulnerable. Read more about what's happening in B.C.
Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 while on medical travel in the South. Read more about what's happening across the North, including Yukon's announcement that it will also begin to ease restrictions.
Here's a look at what's happening around the world
As of 6 p.m. ET on Monday, there were more than 4.7 million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, according to a database tracking system maintained by the coronavirus resource centre at Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.5 million cases are in the United States.
According to the tracking system, COVID-19 has killed roughly 317,000 people globally.
WATCH | Some good news from around the world on Monday:
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press