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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on March 29

About 1.6 million Canadians have applied for employment insurance due to the coronavirus outbreak, Canada's employment minister said Sunday.

1.6M Canadians have applied for employment insurance, says employment minister

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About 1.6 million Canadians have applied for employment insurance due to the coronavirus outbreak, Canada's employment minister said Sunday.

"In the height of the 2008 [financial crisis] there was about 38,000 [EI applicants] on our absolute worst day," Carla Qualtrough told CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup.

"We hit about 275,000 in one day last week," she said, adding there's "enormous need" from out-of-work Canadians.

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.

There have been concerns about the EI system being overwhelmed by claims, and Qualtrough said the government is trying to streamline the process and send money to those eligible by mid-April.

Also Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new federal funding for those experiencing higher levels of stress because of self-isolation policies — including children, seniors, the homeless and those facing violence at home.

He said the government is contributing $7.5 million to Kids Help Phone to hire more counsellors, adding that children feeling anxious should go online, call 1-800-668-6868, or text 686868 to reach the service.

WATCH | Trudeau offers message to young Canadians:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to Canadian children and youth across the country Sunday, announcing more mental health supports for those struggling with isolation.  1:02

Trudeau also said he's offering $9 million to the United Way through the government's New Horizons for Seniors Program to help provide things such as health checks and grocery or meal delivery service.

The government is allocating $50 million to women's shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities — and $157 million to help those experiencing homelessness. 

In the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the government's foremost infectious disease expert — said the country could see "millions of cases" of COVID-19 and between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths related to the coronavirus.

WATCH | U.S. could see over 1M COVID-19 cases, says top doctor:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, said the country could see "millions of cases" of COVID-19 and between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths related to the illness. 2:30

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was speaking to CNN's State of the Union program on Sunday as the U.S. was leading the world in the number of reported infections, estimated at more than 130,000. The U.S. death count crossed 2,300.

"But I don't want to be held to that," Fauci said, regarding what he considers a worst-case scenario. "We don't need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong and mislead people."

The virus has hit hard in big American cities like New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, and has also made its way into rural America with outbreaks in small midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

A patient is transported into the Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York City on Sunday. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press)

New York surpassed a grim milestone Sunday as its death toll climbed above 1,000, less than a month after the disease was first detected in the state. 

New York City reported this evening that its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths isn't expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state's total fatalities was at least 1,026.

"Right now, things are really dire. We're seeing a lot more sick patients. Our hospitals are full, the emergency department is full," Ugo Ezenkwele, chief of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Queens hospital, told CBC News on Sunday.

"Three weeks ago, we saw a patient come in with mild symptoms, and now we're seeing patients who are fairly sick, severely sick, requiring more oxygen," he said, adding the hospital in the New York City borough of Queens is no longer doing elective surgeries.

Coronavirus-hit cruise ship carrying Canadians

The Panama Canal Authority issued a statement Sunday night saying a Holland America cruise ship hit with a COVID-19 outbreak had begun moving through the canal as it heads for its final destination in Florida, The Associated Press reported. 

Foreign Affairs says there are 248 Canadians stranded aboard MS Zaandam, where some passengers have tested positive for the virus and four people have died. No Canadians on the vessel are reported ill.

Since a stop in Chile on March 14, the ship has been turned away from several ports after reporting that some of those on board were suffering from flu-like symptoms. Panama on Saturday reversed its decision to block the ship from the canal.

Passengers of Holland America's cruise ship Zaandam are transferred to the Rotterdam cruise ship in Panama City bay on Saturday.The Zaandam cruise ship has been stranded at sea since March 14 after several South American ports refused to let it dock due to dozens of people aboard having shown flu-like symptoms. (Ivan Pisarenko/AFP via Getty Images)

The operator said Saturday that it would be transferring asymptomatic people on board to Holland America's sister ship, the Rotterdam. That ship has also started moving through the canal, the Panama Canal Authority said in its statement on Sunday night.  

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says he has been co-ordinating with his Panamanian counterpart and will continue efforts to bring any non-infected Canadians home once the ship docks in Fort Lauderdale.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs said flights carrying Canadians will depart from Ecuador, Guatemala and Spain on Sunday. 

The number of cases of the respiratory illness stands at more than 663,800 across the globe, with more than 30,000 deaths. 

(CBC)

New measures

Canada now has more than 6,300 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, of which more than 500 have recovered.

There are also at least 66 deaths, not including those abroad. Foreign Affairs confirmed to CBC News on Sunday that a Canadian had died in Brazil due to COVID-19 complications "after falling ill on a cruise." Another Canadian — who was also on a cruise — had earlier died in Japan.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Saturday announced stiff new measures to prevent price gouging for important products during the COVID-19 crisis. He said individuals found guilty of price gouging could face fines of $100,000, while company directors could face fines of $500,000 as well as a year in jail. Corporations may be fined as much as $10 million.

A patient is taken out of an ambulance at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital on Sunday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Canada's most populous province is also prohibiting gatherings of more than five people, replacing an order that barred public events of over 50 people. 

The new order does not apply to households with more than five people. Child-care centres supporting health-care workers and first responders are exempt. Funerals will be permitted with up to 10 people at one time.

The situation means upcoming religious celebrations, including Easter and Ramadan, "will need to be adapted," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Sunday.

WATCH | Canada's top doctor says this week will be crucial:

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the impact of physical distancing measures will become clearer this week. 1:37

Transport Canada on Saturday has laid out new rules, in effect on Monday, for domestic travel, meaning anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 won't be allowed to board a domestic flight or inter-city passenger train.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death.

More than 146,000 people around the world have recovered, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, says she has recovered from COVID-19 after contracting the illness while on a trip to the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, has said the fight against the pandemic is far from over and that it could include a second wave.

Tam said Canada has done tests on 205,000 people. About three per cent of them resulted in positive diagnoses for coronavirus.

Here's what's happening in Canada's provinces and territories

British Columbia announced $3 million in emergency funding Sunday to help struggling food banks keep up with the surge in demand. "British Columbia's not-for-profit food banks provide a critical service for vulnerable people in our communities, especially during this most challenging time," said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. Food Banks BC will distribute the money to food banks provincewide so ithey can buy and distribute food, pay employees and cover other costs essential to the delivery of their food programs. Read more about what's happening in B.C.

A message urging people to stay home is seen on a balcony as people cycle past in Vancouver on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Albertans are frustrated with the province's application process for emergency one-time funding. The rollout of the emergency funding — a one-time payment of $1,146 through an Interac e-transfer to eligible applicants — has been fraught with technical issues. "The best analogy I can think of is like trying to push a tsunami through a pinhole," said one applicant. Read more about what's happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan said there's been an increase in cases connected with a snowmobile rally dinner held earlier this month. The province says approximately 130 people were present, and as of Sunday, 20 cases have been linked to the event. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba has eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 72, health officials said Sunday. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | A laid-off Sunwing pilot talks about recovering from COVID-19:

'Won't be travelling for a while,' laid-off pilot Derek Butcher tells CBC   4:45

Ontario officials announced that at least 18 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19. The number includes six in Toronto, one in Mississauga and one in Oakville. 

Meanwhile, a First Nations in southern Ontario said it was erecting checkpoints at entrances and exits to its territory after confirming its first cases of COVID-19. The Six Nations of The Grand River said Sunday that two people on the reserve had tested positive and were self-isolating. Read more about what's happening in Ontario.

Quebec Premier François Legault says the number of new cases appears to be stabilizing and hospitalizations remain limited. "Public health authorities are telling us that our efforts are paying off, so don't give up," said Legault, who declared a public health emergency two weeks ago. Public health director Horacio Arruda said that although Quebec has "still not attained the plateau," the province should avoid the worst-case scenarios it had been preparing for if the trend continues. Read more about what's happening in Quebec.

A health-care worker issues a swab at a drive-thru COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal on Sunday, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick health officials are alerting passengers after it was discovered a person aboard a flight that landed in Moncton tested positive for COVID-19. A statement by the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority says if anyone was on this flight, or was in close contact to someone on this flight, they should self-isolate for 14 days. Read more about what's happening in New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia is confirming three workers at separate long-term care homes have tested positive for COVID-19 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 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." Read more about what's happening in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island has reported a total of 11 cases of COVID-19, with two new cases, one woman in her 20s and another in her 50s who both travelled internationally. Read more about what's happening in P.E.I.

WATCH | How COVID-19 is affecting grocery stores:

As Canadians continue to grapple with physical distancing and how to deal with COVID-19, most grocery store workers still have to go to work and come in contact with others. 2:17

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said Sunday that officials have been bracing for the COVID-19 situation to become more serious. "We do not want to be alarmist, but we have to be truthful with you. This is how serious COVID-19 is," he said. "Stay inside so the virus stands outside."

Health Minister John Haggie said none of the province's ventilators are being used on a COVID-19 patient, as of Sunday, but announced 15 more cases in the province. The province attributes the rapid growth of its cases to the clustering of a large number of cases that occurred at two funerals held at Caul's Funeral Home in St. John's earlier this month. Read more about what's happening in N.L.

A curfew will go into effect Sunday night across the northern Quebec region of Nunavik, a day after health authorities in the region confirmed a case of COVID-19 in Salluit.

Here's what's happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and CBC News, updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

U.S. President Donald Trump will extend national physical distancing guidelines until April 30 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines recommend that older people and those with pre-existing conditions stay home and away from other people, and also recommend that all Americans avoid social gatherings, work from home and steer clear of bars and restaurants.

The announcement at the White House on Sunday evening came as many health-care experts worried that Trump would relax restrictions too early after he said he was hoping for an economic resurrection, with the country "raring to go by Easter."

But when asked by reporters about those statements Sunday evening, Trump said the idea of restoring more normalcy by Easter "was just an aspiration."

WATCH | Trump extends physical distancing measures:

U.S. President Donald Trump says his previous statement about trying to get Americans back to work by Easter was 'just an aspiration.' 1:01

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his state will increase its daily testing capacity from about 4,000 to 10,000 within 10 days. He said more workers are being added at labs, along with new technology.

He said he spoke with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories, which has made a portable rapid test, to ask that the state gets first dibs.

The medical device maker says its cartridge-based test, approved Friday, delivers results within minutes.

Signs in support of health-care workers are posted outside of Mercy Hospital in Miami on Sunday. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

Illinois health officials reported 18 deaths Sunday, including an infant. Overall, Illinois has more than 4,500 cases with 65 deaths.

The U.S. had over 130,000 infections and 2,300 deaths, according to the latest tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported. 

Spikes in infections were recorded around the country Sunday, not only in metropolitan areas but in midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens

Here's what's happening in Europe

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Spain says it has hit a new daily record for coronavirus deaths with 838 fatalities in the last 24 hours for a total of 6,528, the world's second-highest death count behind Italy. Spain's new total for infections is 78,797.

Spain has been in lockdown for two weeks under a national state of emergency. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's cabinet was to approve on Sunday a new decree to tighten those controls and impede workers from commuting to work for the next two weeks in all industries unrelated to health care and food production and distribution.

Spanish Royal Guard soldiers disinfect their gear at a hospital in Madrid on Sunday. (Bernat Armangue/The Associated Press)

The death toll in Italy surpassed 10,000 on Saturday and on Sunday, surged to 10,779, according to the Civil Protection Agency. With almost 98,000 COVID-19 infections as of Sunday, Italy has the second highest number of cases behind the U.S. It surpassed China's tally on Friday.

A French politician who for decades was in the limelight as a mainstay of the conservative right is the first politician in France to have died after being tested positive for COVID-19. Patrick Devedjian died early Sunday at the age of 75 after being hospitalized earlier in the week, the regional council of the Hauts-de-Seine region, which he presided over, announced. As of Sunday, 2,606 people had died of COVID-19 in France.

In the U.K., 17,089 people have tested positive and 1,019 have died of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning, the Department of Health and Social Care said on Twitter. Britons should be prepared for a "significant period" in lockdown, senior cabinet minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.

A cyclist is seen on a quiet street in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

In Germany, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 52,547 and 389 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

Ireland on Sunday reported an additional 200 confirmed cases to bring the total to 2,615. The government is rolling out a voluntary phone-tracking app to alert users if someone they have been in contact with develops COVID-19, its health service said Sunday.

The phone app, which will keep track of people the user has come into close physical contact with and alert them if they subsequently test positive, is expected to be launched within 10 days, Ireland's Health Service Executive said.

Here's what's happening in China

From Reuters, updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

China, originally the epicentre of COVID-19, continued to ease its restrictions on Sunday as other countries tightened theirs. Airline flights from Hubei province, which was at the centre of the country's outbreak and locked down for weeks, resumed Sunday.

Health workers check details of a passenger arriving from Beijing at a train station in Wuhan on Sunday. (Ng Han Guan/The Associated Press)

The number of new infections has fallen sharply in China from the peak in February and the government is now exhorting businesses and factories to reopen for business.

But Beijing remains worried about the risk of a second wave of the epidemic triggered by cases involving travellers coming to China who were infected overseas. China has barred foreigners from entering the country and 
ordered airlines to slash the number of international flights into the country. 

Here's a look at what's happening in some other parts of the world

From Reuters and The Associated Press 

The government of Honduras said on Sunday that it is extending a curfew through April 12 as the fast-spreading disease has killed three in the Central American nation, where there are 110 confirmed cases.

In Russia, authorities are placing Moscow under a partial lockdown starting Monday, in which residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food or medicine at the closest store, get urgent medical treatment, walk their dogs or take out trash. It's the toughest move yet to try to stop the spread of COVID-19, as 1,000 of the total 1,534 cases reported in Russia are in the capital city. Some doctors have voiced skepticism about the accuracy of Russia's case count, which appears relatively low compared to other countries. Russian authorities have denied those allegations. 

WATCH | Russia's coronavirus count under scrutiny

Russia has so far kept its amount of coronavirus cases low during the pandemic, but some say many cases of COVID-19 are being labelled something else. 2:04

Australia has announced that public gatherings will be limited to two people, down from 10, and has enacted a six-month moratorium on evictions for those who cannot pay their rent as part of its latest measures in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Australia had 3,966 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday afternoon, including 16 deaths.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the public on Sunday for imposing a three-week national lockdown, calling it harsh but "needed to win" the battle against the pandemic. The unprecedented lockdown order, which came into effect on Wednesday to keep India's 1.3 billion people at home for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies, is meant to prevent the spread of the virus from surging and overwhelming India's already strained health care system. Indian health officials have confirmed 867 cases of the coronavirus, including 25 deaths.

People practise physical distancing as they wait in line to receive food being distributed in Mumbai on Sunday. (Rafiq Maqbool/The Associated Press)

Iran has confirmed another 144 deaths from the coronavirus and says thousands more are in critical condition as the military completed work on a 2,000-bed field hospital in an exhibition centre in the capital. Iran has reported nearly 2,400 deaths among more than 32,000 cases.

Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted they have the outbreak under control, despite concerns it could overwhelm the country's health facilities. Authorities have urged people to stay home, but have not imposed the sweeping lockdowns seen elsewhere in the region.

A health official measures the body temperature of a passenger on a bus at a check point in Istanbul on Sunday. (Emrah Gurel/The Associated Press)

Malaysia reported 150 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the total to 2,470, the highest in Southeast Asia. The number of deaths from the virus outbreak rose by seven to 34, the health ministry said.

Syria reported its first death. It now has nine confirmed cases, but medics and witnesses say there are many more.

Turkey's deaths from the coronavirus increased by 23 to 131 on Sunday, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,815 to 9,217, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights on Saturday as the country recorded more than 100 deaths from COVID-19.

People check an information board as flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday. (Firdia Lisnawati/The Associated Press)

Saudi Arabia — which has more than 1,200 cases, the most in the Gulf Arab region — on Sunday said it was extending indefinitely the suspension of international passenger flights and workplace attendance in both public and private sectors among efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday ordered the cessation of movement in Lagos and the capital, Abuja, for 14 days. Buhari, whose chief of staff last week tested positive for COVID-19, said the "containment period" would be used to identify, trace and isolate all individuals who have come into contact with confirmed cases. Nigeria has 97 confirmed cases, most of which have been in its two main cities.

Indonesia authorities in Jakarta have extended a state of emergency for the next two weeks. The country has reported 102 deaths and 1,155 infections.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defy calls from health officials looking to prevent gatherings that might spread the coronavirus, posting videos of himself gathering small crowds in several neighbourhoods in the capital of Brasilia.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Bolsonaro has downplayed the risks of COVID-19, calling it a "little flu" that largely threatens the elderly and most vulnerable. He has urged them to self-isolate, but otherwise has stressed the need to keep Brazil's economy running. He has clashed with several state governors, who have introduced quarantine measures, such as in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

"The virus is here. We're going to have to confront it. Confront it like a man — not a boy," Bolsonaro told supporters outside his official residence on Sunday. "We're all going to die one day."

As of Sunday, the Brazilian Health Ministry had reported 3,904 confirmed cases and 114 deaths linked to COVID-19.

With files from The Associated Press, Reuters and The Canadian Press

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