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Coronavirus: Here's what's happening in Canada and around the world on March 17

As many parts of the world continue to ramp up their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated that his government will provide financial help for Canadians abroad who are trying to return home.

Ontario, Alberta and B.C. declare emergency as Trudeau pledges relief for Canadians

A COVID-19 assessment centre in Brampton, Ont., is shown on Tuesday. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

The latest:

  • $25B federal aid package coming Wednesday.
  • Ontario declares a state of emergency, reports 1st death.
  • Alberta declares public health emergency.
  • B.C. also declares public health emergency, reports 3 new deaths.
  • Canada's death toll now at 8.
  • U.S. death toll tops 100 as cases now reported in all 50 states.
  • EU to shut down the 27-nation bloc's external borders immediately.

As the world continued to ramp up its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated that his government will provide financial help for Canadians abroad who are trying to return home.

But despite praising Ontario Premier Doug Ford's declaration of a state of emergency — a move which was soon followed by Alberta and B.C. declaring a public health emergencies — Trudeau said there is no reason to do so federally at this time.

Instead, Ottawa will look at what other measures can be introduced, Trudeau said, speaking to reporters outside his residence in Ottawa, where he is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus that causes the fast-spreading COVID-19 respiratory illness.

CBC News-Radio Canada has learned that will include $25B to help individuals and businesses. 

"People need rent money and groceries. Businesses need to bridge to better times," a senior government official said.  

Trudeau said there will be news on Wednesday regarding employment insurance eligibility, as well as another announcement about tax changes by the end of the week.

WATCH | Trudeau says financial supports on the way for 'millions of Canadians':

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a package of special financial supports is on the way to help millions of Canadians and businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis. 22:01

Global Affairs Canada has also set up an emergency loan program, offering individuals up to $5,000 to help in their struggle to secure flights home.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday they expect 25 per cent of businesses won't be able to survive a one-month closure.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said starting Wednesday, extra measures are being put in place at airports to ensure people returning to Canada aren't spreading the novel coronavirus, while only Canadian citizens, permanent residents and, for now, U.S. citizens will be allowed to enter the country.

Each person will be asked if they have a cough, difficulty breathing or if they feel they have a fever. They will also be required to fill out a form, as well as acknowledge that they have been asked to self-isolate for the next 14 days.

Most international flights will only be allowed to land at four airports — Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver — starting Wednesday.

Empty shelves are pictured at a Superstore grocery store in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

On Tuesday afternoon, British Columbia declared a public health emergency. The province also announced three new deaths — two from the ongoing outbreak at Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where four people have already died; and a man in his 80s who died in hospital in the Fraser Health region.

That brings the provincial death toll to seven, and the national total to eight; Ontario reported its first death on Tuesday.

Watch: Toronto distillery adjusts production line to make hand sanitizer

Spirit of York in Toronto is among several distilleries in Canada that have started making hand sanitizer to help meet increased demand due to the novel coronavirus. 4:33

"This declaration of an emergency enables me to be faster, more streamlined and nimble in the things that we need to do right now," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's medical health officer. 

She said that all restaurants in the province must move to takeout only, and businesses that remain open should take measures to ensure social distancing — about one to two metres between all people.

A person walks past graffiti in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

As Ontario declared its provincewide state of emergency, one of the orders issued Tuesday was the prohibition of organized public events of more than 50 people, including services within places of worship, until March 31. Public libraries and cinemas will also be closed until that date, as will bars and restaurants, though they can still offer takeout service.

"This was a decision that was not made lightly," the premier said.

Elsewhere in Canada, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, Jon Hansen, said the diocese is suspending all Sunday masses during the COVID-19 pandemic. That order will affect those in the Northwest Territories, northern Saskatchewan and western Nunavut, though churches will remain open during regular mass hours.

Meanwhile, the White House has urged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks and called for bars, restaurants and other venues to close in states where local virus transmission exists. It is also urging Americans to work from home, if possible, and to home-school their children. U.S. President Donald Trump said the worst of the outbreak may not be over until July or August, if not later.

WATCH | Trump says Americans will defeat COVID-19

U.S. President Donald Trump says Americans will look back one day on this time and say, 'we won.' 1:01

"By making shared sacrifices and temporary changes, we can protect the health of our people and we can protect our economy, because I think our economy will come back very rapidly," Trump told reporters during a Tuesday task force briefing. 

He also said the U.S. is working closely with Canada but did not say there are any plans to close the border between the two countries.

The coronavirus — which has spread to more than 140 countries — has rattled economies and sparked sweeping changes from governments, both in Canada and abroad.

WATCH | Debunking misinformation about COVID-19:

Misinformation about the coronavirus and how to prevent catching it has misled people around the world.  1:48

Provinces and territories have cancelled classes, cities are shutting down public spaces, such as libraries and recreation centres, and public health officials are urging people to practise proper hand hygiene and social distancing.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the risk from the coronavirus to the general public is low, but cautioned that seniors, people with underlying health issues and individuals with compromised immune systems face a higher risk of "more severe" outcomes if they contract it.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called the outbreak the "defining global health crisis of our time," noting that testing is the top priority.

"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test."

Here's a look at what's happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia is closing all schools indefinitely, Premier John Horgan announced in a news conference Tuesday, affecting students from kindergarten to Grade 12. It followed an announcement ordering all restaurants and bars in the Greater Vancouver Area to close on St. Patrick's Day to prevent the spread of COVID-19. B.C.'s tourism association has also warned that with hotels and restaurants empty across the province, the visitor economy could collapse without financial relief from the government.  Read more about what's happening in B.C.

Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport is seen nearly empty on Tuesday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public emergency, prohibiting gatherings of over 50 people. Attendance of public recreational facilities will be prohibited, and he advised against attendance of events like weddings and funerals as well. "This is a serious moment in our history, and COVID-19 will test all of us," Kenney said. "But I believe I know that this province is resilient, and we are ready for the test." Read more about what's happening in Alberta, and visit this site for a list of closures in Calgary.

Saskatchewan has postponed the release of its full 2020-21 budget. The opposition had asked for the delay amid the pandemic and market turmoil, which has seen falling oil prices. The province has also closed pre-K-12 schools, starting Friday, though all parents who are able were asked to keep children home as soon as possible. Besides schools, Saskatoon and Regina have announced numerous closures, while the province is overhauling its 811 HealthLine to keep pace with demand for the telephone service. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba says all of its reported cases to date are travel-related. Still, the province has enacted numerous restrictions, such as limiting acute care centre visits to one visitor at a time and none at all at some seniors' homes. There are currently four dedicated testing centres in Winnipeg and one in Thompson, with plans for more in rural areas soon. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba.

A sign announces the temporal closing of a bar in Montreal on Tuesday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

On Tuesday, Ontario confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in the province, a man in his 70s who was in close contact with an infected person.  All casinos in the province are being closed, and Metrolinx is reducing services starting later this week. In Ottawa, the city's top doctor is recommending that people cancel events, and avoid going out for "non-essential" reasons, saying community transmission is likely taking place in the city. Read more about what's happening in Ontario here. 

Quebec pushed back its tax filing season to ease pressure on residents coping with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. The province — which declared a state of health emergency on Saturday — also increased its coronavirus testing capacity, from 1,600 to 6,000, starting Tuesday. "We will do that — test, test, test," said Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda. Bars, clubs, gyms and movie theatres were ordered closed over the weekend, and the province's rental board has suspended eviction hearings during the pandemic. Read more about what's happening in Quebec.

Dykeland Lodge in Windsor, N.S., has setup a meeting window where its residents can meet with family members. (Submitted by Krista Beeler)

New Brunswick's government sought to free up acute care beds by moving 65 seniors waiting for nursing home placement out of hospitals. Premier Blaine Higgs announced Tuesday the move was to make way for an anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients, and that the seniors will temporarily be moved into a nursing home within 100 kilometres of their permanent address. Read more about what's happening in New Brunswick here.

Prince Edward Island, which declared a public health emergency on Monday, announced a financial relief package to help supports those in need. Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson announced a $500,000 fund for community partners delivering services to Islanders. Premier Dennis King also earmarked $500 per week for self-employed Islanders who are significantly affected. Read more about what's happening on P.E.I.

Nova Scotia indefinitely postponed elective surgeries, and is closing schools and daycares, which the premier cautioned could last for an extended period. "Our No. 1 priority will be the public's safety and the health [and] safety of Nova Scotians and their children," Stephen McNeil said over the weekend. In one nursing facility — home to some of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus — an office on the ground floor has been cleared out so residents and their loved ones can meet face to face, through a closed window.  Read more about what's happening in Nova Scotia here.

A medical worker tests a person for the coronavirus at a drive-through facility in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday. (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador officials say new cornavirus-related restrictions will likely last into the summer. Health Minister John Haggie said that includes a reduction in hospital services, including the cancellation of all non-urgent appointments and surgeries. Read more about what's happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are not yet any confirmed cases in Canada's North. But Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday "COVID-19 has the potential to have a much greater impact" on the territory than elsewhere in Canada. Overcrowded housing is a key obstacle to keeping the community healthy, said Premier Joe Savikataaq. Read more about what's happening in Canada's North here.

Here's a look at the latest numbers in Canada. Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

  • Ontario: 190 confirmed cases, including one death and five cases listed as resolved.
  • British Columbia: 186 confirmed, including seven deaths and five cases listed as resolved.
  • Alberta: 97 confirmed.
  • Quebec: 74 confirmed.
  • Saskatchewan: six presumptive, two confirmed.
  • New Brunswick: six presumptive, two confirmed.
  • Manitoba: eight confirmed, seven presumptive. 
  • Nova Scotia: six presumptive, one confirmed.
  • Prince Edward Island: one confirmed.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: three presumptive.
  • Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: nine confirmed.

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

From The Associated Press, updated at 7 p.m. ET

The response across the U.S. is varied. Nearly seven million people in the San Francisco area were all but confined to their homes Tuesday, while Florida put a damper on spring break and St. Patrick's Day by ordering the closing of all bars, as state and local officials took an increasingly hard line against the coronavirus.

Ohio cancelled its presidential primary hours before the polls were to open, but three other states pressed ahead with their elections, recommending such precautions as putting tape on the floor to keep voters a safe distance apart.

A patient in a bio-containment unit is carried on a stretcher from an ambulance in Rome on Tuesday. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

In Detroit, bus riders were stranded Tuesday after most drivers didn't report to work, apparently concerned about the spread of the virus and confused as to whether Michigan's new restrictions on gatherings included vehicles loaded with commuters.

In the hard-hit Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation approving $200 million US in emergency funds to slow the spread of COVID-19. The state has seen 54 deaths from the coronavirus — 30 of which are connected to a nursing home in a Seattle suburb — the most in the U.S.

West Virginia confirmed its first positive case, meaning the virus has now been reported in all 50 states. Coronavirus infections across the country has reached approximately 5,200, and the death toll climbed to at least 103.

Here's what's happening in Europe

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

The leaders of European Union nations have agreed to institute a travel ban that prohibits most foreigners from entering the bloc for 30 days. EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to shut down the 27-nation's bloc's external borders immediately.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the proposal by EU officials "got a lot of support by the member states. It's up to them now to implement. They said they will immediately do that."

The virus case count in Europe has climbed to over 51,000 and more than 2,300 people have died.

WATCH | EU bans non-essential travel within the bloc:

The European Union is set to ban all non-essential travel within its 26 countries today and French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that as of noon Tuesday, the external borders of the EU will be closed, with certain exceptions.  4:30

Italy, the second hardest-hit nation after China in the world's coronavirus pandemic, has announced new figures that show it has one-third of the world's total deaths from the new virus. The country added more than 3,500 new positive cases Tuesday, bringing its overall total to 31,506. In addition, another 345 people with the virus have died, bringing Italy's total deaths to 2,503.

Doctors Without Borders says Italy lacks key medical equipment, like protective gloves or masks. "Nearly 1,700 health-care workers, or eight per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in Italy, have been infected whilst tirelessly caring for the rising number of severely ill patients who require long-term hospitalization," the group said.

Police officers wearing protective masks check papers at a control point in Paris on Tuesday. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press)

In the U.K., authorities have urged all residents to avoid unnecessary contact with others and that people in the most vulnerable groups should be isolated for almost three months. As of Monday, Britain had 1,543 confirmed cases and 53 virus-related deaths. Queen Elizabeth is to travel to Windsor Castle and has cancelled planned events, including garden parties, due to the outbreak, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.

Ireland is expecting the number of cases there to skyrocket in the next few weeks. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he expects to see upward of 15,000 cases by month's end, up from the current 223, and has advised against all non-essential overseas travel. Schools, universities, childcare centres and bars have also been closed. 

France's government is pledging 45 billion euros ($70 billion Cdn) in aid for small businesses hurt by the spreading coronavirus. France now has more than 6,600 cases of the virus, including 148 deaths.

A customer wearing a protective mask leaves a Tim Hortons with its dining area closed in Montreal on Tuesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

In Lithuania, the cargo truck line on the border to enter Poland stretched 60 kilometres long on Tuesday after Poland closed its border to foreigners.

Greece is imposing a compulsory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country and extending shop closures to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Madrid faced its third day of lockdown on Tuesday over the coronavirus outbreak. Spain, the fourth-most virus-infected country in the world, has been imposing a partial lockdown since Saturday night, allowing people to leave their homes only to go to work, buy food or visit a pharmacy or hospital. The government's official coronavirus death toll rose by 182 overnight, to 491 on Tuesday. The number of infected topped 10,000 for the first time and now sits at 11,178. 

WATCH | Canadians locked down in Spain trying to get back home:

With Spain now in lockdown, a Canadian couple with no place to stay after March 29 is trying to get out. 4:25

Here's a look at what's happening in business and finance:

From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 8:45 p.m. ET.

Tim Hortons — which has closed its dine-in areas and switched to takeout, drive-thru and delivery orders only — said on Tuesday it is providing up to $40 million Cdn "to ensure that their teams members affected by COVID-19 stay home, and don't have to worry about how they will support themselves and their families."

Ride-hailing company Uber is suspending its service called Uber Pool until further notice. All other Uber trips, as well as Uber Eats, are still available.

Volkswagen said on Tuesday it would close most of its European plants for two weeks due to uncertainty about demand for cars and supplies of parts.

A worker sanitizes a train compartment at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Rajanish Kakade/The Associated Press)

Cineplex is closing all 165 of its theatres across the country until April 2 and will issue refunds for any advance bookings. 

CIBC is temporarily closing 206 of its branches and modifying its hours of operation. More than 800 of its locations in Canada will remain open.The bank says it will list the branches affected and the new hours on its website Wednesday.

Sephora has announced that it will be closing all of its North American retail stores as of 5 p.m. (local times) on Tuesday to help fight the spread of the virus.

Calgary-based airline WestJet says it will be suspending all commercial international and transborder flights for a 30-day period, refocusing its efforts on repatriation flights for Canadians stuck abroad.

The company said tickets for the period beginning March 23 will no longer be available for sale, and its final, commercially scheduled flight will be Sunday night. After that, the airline will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government.

The Calgary Stampede said it is temporarily laying off 890 people — about 80 per cent of its staff — amid the pandemic.

Here's a look at what's happening in Asia

From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET.

India says it will bar all passengers — including Indian citizens — from entering the country on flights from the European Union, Turkey and the United Kingdom beginning Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by India's aviation regulator, travellers coming from or transiting through the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they arrive. Arrivals from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany are already subject to similar restrictions, while many border points with neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have been shut.

Residents step on measured tape placed outside a supermarket to practice social distancing in Manila on Tuesday. (Aaron Favila/The Associated Press)

India's tourist ministry announced this week that it is shutting down the Taj Mahal, its iconic "monument of love," to visitors.

Several other important monuments have also been shut across the country to keep people safe amid the coronavirus outbreak. Most schools and entertainment facilities have also been shuttered across India.

The Philippine Stock Exchange was closed with no trading Tuesday after the president placed the northern part of the country, including Manila, under quarantine. The exchange's CEO said the end of trading activity would be "until further notice." The Philippines has 140 cases of infection and 12 deaths.

Temperatures are checked by a security guard in Beijing on Tuesday. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)

Sri Lanka says it will add more quarantine centres to help fight the coronavirus. An army general said 23 army vacation bungalows will be used as quarantine centres for a group of travellers who arrived recently from London. Sri Lanka has confirmed 28 cases of the virus, with no deaths so far.

China is relaxing travel restrictions in Hubei, the province hardest hit by the virus, sending thousands of workers back to jobs at factories desperate to get production going again.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday that cities just outside the epicentre of Wuhan were chartering buses to send back to work residents who had returned home for the Lunar New Year in late January.

The move comes as Chinese officials say the outbreak that spread from the city of Wuhan starting in late December has mostly run its course domestically, while they remain vigilant against imported cases.

A worker wearing protective gear disinfects a baseball stadium in Seoul. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on China's service sector and industries from autos to cellphones, although President Xi Jinping has pledged that economic growth targets for the year will still be met.

In the latest tally, China's National Health Commission on Tuesday reported 21 new cases of the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 80,881. The health commission also said 13 people have died, raising the death toll to 3,226.

In South Korea, officials reported a downward trend in new infections for the third day in a row Tuesday. There were 84 new cases, bringing the country's total infections to 8,320. on Monday, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 81 people have died in the country, after six more deaths were reported Tuesday, most of them older and with underlying disease. South Korea has further postponed the beginning of the new school year by two weeks to protect students from the virus.

The vice-chairman of Japan's Olympic committee, Kozo Tashima,  tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, escalating concerns about whether the Olympics can proceed as planned as the pandemic spreads

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that G7 leaders had agreed to support a "complete" Olympics, but dodged questions about whether any of the leaders had brought up the possibility of postponement. Japan is dealing with around 700 local cases, as well as the passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive.

The Bank of Japan is also looking at taking emergency measures to tamp down the impact of the outbreak on the country's economy, NHK reported.

Here's a look at some of what's happening elsewhere in the world, including hard-hit Iran

From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 8:30 p.m. ET.

  • Australia advised citizens early Wednesday to not travel overseas and urged those already aboard who want to come back to Australia to "do so as soon as possible." Prime Minister Scott Morrison also urged the public not to travel to some parts within the country, as some areas are more affected by the coronavirus than others. Australia has more than 450 confirmed cases — including 10 recovered — and five deaths.
  • Iran saw a 13 per cent increase Tuesday in the number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus has killed 135 more people to raise the total to 988. The country has over 16,000 cases. The Iranian state TV journalist, Dr. Afruz Eslami, cited a study by Tehran's Sharif University of Technology, which found that if people begin to co-operate now with guidelines to curb the spread, Iran will see 120,000 infections and 12,000 deaths before the outbreak is over. She said if they offer medium co-operation, there will be 300,000 cases and 110,000 deaths. 
  • Gambia's health ministry reported its first case of coronavirus on Tuesday, a 20-year-old woman who had recently returned from the U.K.
  • Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue closed at day-end on Tuesday and won't reopen for at least a week, as the governor of the state decreed a state of emergency. Brazil has recorded almost 300 confirmed cases, with more than half in Sao Paulo and the second-largest number in Rio, according to the health ministry. The country has one reported death.
  • The UN's humanitarian chief released $15 million US from the world body's emergency response fund to help the WHO and the UN children's agency (UNICEF) fund efforts to contain the coronavirus in vulnerable countries, where millions of people are already dealing with crises and needing assistance.

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

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