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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world May 7

B.C. has released its plan for how it intends to lift COVID-19 restrictions, though the premier cautioned that without continued discipline, "everything we worked for to this point will be lost." Here's a look at what's happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

Ottawa reaches a deal with the provinces to boost essential workers' pay in a plan worth at least $4B

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $4-billion deal to boost pay for low-wage essential workers. 2:22

The latest:

The prime minister says Ottawa has reached a deal with the provinces to boost essential workers' pay.

The final details of the $4-billion plan are still being worked out with the provinces, which will be responsible for deciding which workers are eligible.

"I want to underscore that this has been a truly collaborative effort," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. "We're relying on these workers now more than ever, and we will be there to support them."

Trudeau said the premiers all agree that front-line workers who are risking their health and making minimum wage deserve a raise. 

The federal government will cover three-quarters of the cost of this program, with other levels of government kicking in the rest.

WATCH | Trudeau talks about the need to increase the salaries of essential workers:

May 25 is the new target date for opening additional businesses, schools and daycares in the Montreal region, said Quebec Premier François Legault. 1:29

Trudeau was to talk to provincial and territorial leaders Thursday evening about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has led to more than 4,400 deaths in Canada, with most of the cases and deaths concentrated in Quebec and Ontario.

Quebec delays some reopenings

On Thursday, Quebec Premier François Legault announced the province is delaying the planned reopening of businesses, daycares and elementary schools in Montreal by one week, until May 25.

The government had faced pressure from school boards, which said they would not be ready to reopen by the earlier planned date. 

Dr. Mylène Drouin, the director of public health for Montreal, said Monday the city was also not seeing conditions favourable to start reopening stores.

WATCH | Legault explains the decision to delay some reopenings:

Businesses are having to evaluate how to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for a Vancouver artisanal ice cream company it means not opening their stores after restrictions start to lift. 2:02

British Columbia, by contrast, is going ahead with its plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions, though the premier cautioned Wednesday that without continued discipline, "everything we worked for to this point will be lost."

While the specifics of reopening plans have varied between provinces, officials across the country have called for continued vigilance around public health measures meant to slow the spread of the disease. 

(CBC)

According to the plan released by British Columbia, by the time the May long weekend rolls around, people should be able to host small gatherings — if both hosts and guests are healthy. 

"We need to get it right. This is not a return to normal. We're going to the new normal," B.C. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday as he unveiled the plan, which will see a range of businesses and services — including non-urgent health care, stores, libraries, parks, salons and restaurants — resume at least some operations by the middle of this month if they can meet public health guidelines.

The phased plan, which includes some increased in-school services later this academic year, doesn't include a full reopening of classrooms until September.

British Columbia reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,255, with 1,494 of those cases considered to be resolved or recovered. To date, the province has reported 124 coronavirus-related deaths.

As of 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 64,992 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with provinces and territories listing 29,260 of those cases as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths based on provincial figures, regional health data and CBC's reporting listed 4,524 deaths in Canada, with another two abroad.

WATCH | Some businesses will delay opening because of safety concerns:

B.C. will begin easing its COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the May long weekend and allow small gatherings and hugs. 1:56

Public health officials have cautioned that the numbers are likely higher as they don't capture information on people who have not yet been tested or cases still under investigation. No matter where you are in the country, health officials have said to behave as though there are cases in your community.

The novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, first emerged in China in late 2019. There's no proven treatment or vaccine, though researchers around the world are frantically searching for solutions. While most cases are mild to moderate, some people — particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly — are at increased risk of severe disease or death. 

Governments around the world have taken steps to try and slow the spread, including urging people to stay at home and businesses to remain closed, which has led to massive economic disruptions for workers and businesses. 

On Thursday, Greyhound Canada announced a temporary shutdown for all of the company's busing routes and services starting May 13. The company said the shutdown in Canada is a result of a 95 per cent drop in ridership and lost revenue as a result of COVID-19.

Read on for a look at what's happening across Canada, in the U.S. and around the world.

What's happening in the provinces and territories

The British Columbia government says it will take up to two years to clear a backlog of 30,000 patients since the province stopped performing elective surgeries two months ago, and that's only if there's no resurgence of the pandemic. It says it is making changes to the health-care system to help, including new screening processes for COVID-19, hiring 400 more operating room nurses, pushing operating rooms to full capacity and turning to private clinics. Read more about what's happening in B.C.

WATCH | B.C. to ease COVID-19 restrictions ahead of May long weekend:

Andrew Chang explains that if you’re wearing a cloth mask during the COVID-19 pandemic the best way to disinfect it is to wash it. 1:15

Alberta's chief medical officer of health is urging caution as the province gets ready to move to Stage 1 of its relaunch plan on May 14. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday it is important to resist the urge to gather in larger groups, even as some retail businesses, child-care centres, restaurants and bars prepare to reopen with restrictions. Read more about what's happening in Alberta. 

Saskatchewan has confirmed schools will remain closed for the rest of this academic year. The Ministry of Education is beginning to work on what in-class learning may look like in September. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is telling patients that they will soon be able to reschedule surgeries and tests postponed because of the pandemic. Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said Thursday that from March 23 — the day Manitoba started delaying those procedures — until the end of April, only about a third of the regular number of surgeries and tests were done. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | How to disinfect a mask:

'It's going to be up to each hospital to figure out how they can proceed,' says Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. 1:47

Ontario also shared plans on Thursday to resume scheduled and elective surgeries, though it did not attach a date. Ministry officials say a key component of the plan will be ensuring that physicians and nurses who were reassigned to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic are brought back into hospitals in a responsible way, and won't leave long-term care facilities understaffed as they deal with the outbreak.  Read more about what's happening in Ontario.

WATCH | Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott explains how hospitals will resume scheduled surgeries: 

Hospitals in Montreal are currently able to cope with the volume of COVID-19 cases, but they are also preparing for a potential spike from a reopened provincial economy. 1:50

Canada's chief science adviser says Quebec has failed to come up with a detailed plan for widespread testing for COVID-19 as it prepares to reopen schools and businesses. "I have asked for it several times," Mona Nemer told Radio-Canada. Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, has admitted the province is only doing about half the number of tests per day it hoped to by the time reopening was underway.  Read more about what's happening in Quebec, where some have questioned the timeline for reopening.

WATCH | Montreal hospitals prepare for surge in COVID-19 cases:

The National’s Adrienne Arsenault talks to former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf about the lessons Liberia and its people, who bore the brunt of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, can share about fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:42

New Brunswick had no new coronavirus cases on Thursday. The province, which went more than two weeks without any new cases, currently has two active cases. Read more about what's happening in N.B., where teachers are asking questions about how school might work in the fall.

Nova Scotia on Thursday reported three new deaths, bringing the province's total number of COVID-19-related deaths to 44. The province said the new deaths were at Northwood, a Halifax long-term care home that has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Read more about what's happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island is offering financial aid to small businesses to help them reopen safely. The province will cover 75 per cent of the cost, up to $2,000, to help businesses buy plastic dividers, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Read more about what's happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, ending a multi-day run with no new cases. Read more about what's happening in N.L., including details about the cancellation of the St. John's Regatta.

A man in Yukon was fined $500 for failing to self-isolate for 14 days after coming into the territory. Read more about what's happening across Canada's North.

Here's a look at what's happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

A close member of U.S. President Donald Trump's staff has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is a member of the U.S. military who works as Trump's valet.

The White House says both Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have both tested negative for the virus since the staff member's diagnosis. 

It marked the latest coronavirus scare for the president, and the first known instance where a person who has come in close proximity to the president has tested positive since several people present at his private Florida club were diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March. The valet tested positive on Wednesday.

The news came as millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting layoffs broadened from consumer-facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.

The U.S. Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report on Thursday showed initial jobless claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 3.169 million for the week ended May 2, down from a revised 3.846 million in the prior week.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 3.0 million claims in the last week compared to the previously reported 3.839 million in the week ending April 25.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the closure of all school buildings, the Seattle Public Schools Nutrition Services Department has been distributing breakfast and lunch to students through a network of 26 school sites and 43 bus routes five days a week. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The data supported economists' views of a protracted recovery of the economy, which is reeling from nationwide lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The economy shrank in the first quarter at the steepest pace since the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Thursday's weekly claims data will have no impact on the Labor Department's comprehensive employment report for April, which is scheduled to be released on Friday, as it falls outside the period during which the government surveyed establishments and households for its monthly report.

Here's a look at what's happening around the world

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

WATCH | Liberia's lessons from Ebola during COVID-19 pandemic:

COVID-19 arrived in Africa later than in most of the world and so far it has had a less terrible impact, but across the continent people are worried about what could be coming. 2:02

In hard-hit Spain, health authorities reported about 200 new fatalities on Thursday, taking the total death toll to just over 26,000 since the start of the outbreak in the country. That is down from an average of more than 900 deaths per day a month ago. Spain has reported nearly 257,000 COVID-19 infections. But in the particularly hard-hit Madrid region, the health chief quit, a day after the region's cabinet voted unanimously to try to accelerate the end of its coronavirus restrictions. Madrid has about 30 per cent of the country's cases. 

The British foreign secretary is stressing that any changes to physical distancing and lockdown measures will be "modest and incremental" to avoid a second peak, as the country's total death toll reaches 30,615. Asked about changes to lockdown rules expected to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, Dominic Raab said "It's a very dangerous moment, we need to proceed with caution."

The average number of daily COVID-19-related hospital admissions in Ireland has fallen from 4-6 people per day a week ago to fewer than two per day. The country is planning to begin easing social restrictions on May 18, but the government has said any changes would depend on progress curbing the spread of the disease. 

Though France is one of the worst-affected nations with 25,809 deaths, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told a news conference that enough progress had been made in curbing COVID-19 and supporting hospitals to begin easing restrictions starting Monday. Some regions — including the Paris area — would remain "red zones" with a more cautious end to the nearly two-month partial national shutdown. 

Germany's public health agency has cautiously welcomed the "emergency brake" agreed to by federal and state authorities should coronavirus cases rebound, but warned that the pandemic is far from over.

Children respect physical distancing rules as they line up to enter the Petri primary school in Dortmund, western Germany on Thursday as the school reopens for some pupils following lockdown due to coronavirus. (Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

Lars Schaade, deputy head of the Robert Koch Institute, said Thursday that setting a level of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants for reimposing lockdown measures was a "pragmatic threshold that I believe in principle is sensible." But he noted that Germany remains "at the start of the pandemic," adding that "it can last many months and it will probably continue into the next year."

Restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus in Moscow have been extended until May 31, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on Thursday in a blog post on his personal website. Moscow is the epicentre of Russia's coronavirus crisis, with 92,676 of the country's 177,160 cases, though Sobyanin said earlier the real number of cases in the capital was around 300,000.

Around 850,000 people across Africa — population 1.3 billion — have been tested for the coronavirus since the pandemic began. That's according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WATCH | COVID-19 fear spreads across Africa:

‘There’s a lot of good that actually comes from understanding these mutations,’ says Dr. Isaac Bogoch. 7:24

Director John Nkengasong again told reporters that "we are not testing enough." The Africa CDC last month said it hoped to test one million people within four weeks and 10 million within about six months. But the supply of testing kits remains a challenge.

"Without tests, we'll be fighting blindly," Nkengasong said. He added that "we are in for a very long fight, let me be clear with everyone." Africa's confirmed virus cases are now above 51,000.

Brazil registered a record 10,503 new cases in the last 24 hours and 615 deaths. President Jair Bolsonaro's spokesperson, Otavio do Rego Barros, has tested positive and is currently quarantined in his home. Bolsonaro has publicly railed against business shutdowns, calling them more harmful than the virus itself. 

In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, cruise ship MV Ruby Princess, left, stays anchored with other ships waiting for clearance from the Bureau of Quarantine before they dock in Manila, Philippines on Thursday. (Philippine Coast Guard/The Associated Press)

A cruise ship being investigated in Australia for sparking coronavirus infections has sailed into Philippine waters to bring Filipino crewmen home. The Philippine coast guard said Thursday the Ruby Princess will drop anchor in Manila Bay, where at least 16 other cruise ships have converged since last month while waiting for more than 5,000 Filipino crew members to be tested for the coronavirus before disembarking.

In India, the national tally rose to 52,952, up by 3,561 over the previous day, and the death toll rose by 89 to 1,783. The spurt in cases has come from the densely packed metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

Pakistan's prime minister has announced plans to lift the government lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in phases starting Saturday. But Imran Khan warned in a televised speech Thursday he will reimpose the lockdown if people do not adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The number of people infected in Singapore surged past 20,000 as more foreign workers living in crowded dormitories were diagnosed. The city-state reported 788 new cases to take its total to 20,198. Foreign workers living in dorms accounted for nearly 90 per cent of the cases.

WATCH | 'There's no evidence to date' that COVID-19 mutations are making virus more dangerous, says infectious disease specialist:

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

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