Canada·Coronavirus Brief

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Oct. 12

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Oct. 12.
A child in Jerusalem sits among LED candles placed by activists in memory of Israel's COVID-19 victims. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Technical glitches briefly affect first day of applications for Canada recovery benefit

Canadians seeking to access new financial support after missing work because of COVID-19 appeared to briefly run into technical glitches as applications opened for the Canada recovery benefit (CRB) on Monday. Applications for the new benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The benefit is open to those who don't qualify for employment insurance (EI) because they never paid into it or don't have enough hours.

Earlier this morning, some people reported having trouble applying through the Government of Canada website. A message appeared for a short time on the CRB website saying that the CRA was "experiencing technical issues with applications for recovery benefits" and was "urgently working to restore this service as quickly as possible." A CRA spokesperson told CBC News just before 12:30 p.m. ET that the issues have been fixed. "Taxpayers may now resume their applications. The CRA regrets the momentary impact this may have on applicants, and we appreciate their patience."

The new benefit from the federal government comes into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses, with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars and fitness centres to slow the spread of COVID-19. Applications also opened last week for a new caregiver benefit, after numerous calls since the start of the pandemic for added support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent because of COVID-19.

Women have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings as a result of the pandemic because they have largely shouldered the burden of child care and home schooling. The caregiver benefit applies to people who miss work because of school or daycare closures, and whose children miss school or daycare because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed. It also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members who need specialized care that is unavailable to them because of COVID-19. The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit.

The government has also created a new sick leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks to people who can't work because they contracted COVID-19 or must self-isolate because of the virus. The new benefits are taking effect following an acrimonious political battle in Parliament that ultimately saw all parties vote in favour of them but not before the airing of widespread concern that the Liberal government was rushing them through.

Click below to watch more from The National

Is Canada focused on the wrong COVID-19 tests?

The National

5 months ago
6:05
There is a growing push to have Canada focus on COVID-19 tests that detect who is contagious rather than who is positive for the virus. These tests are available elsewhere in the world, cheaper and can be done at home, but they aren’t approved in Canada. 6:05

IN BRIEF

Trump resumes campaign 10 days after COVID-19 disclosure

U.S. President Donald Trump will try to put his bout with COVID-19 behind him when he returns to the campaign trail later today, beginning a three-week sprint to the Nov. 3 election with a rally in the battleground state of Florida. The event at an airport in Sanford will be Trump's first campaign rally since he disclosed on Oct. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19. Trump, who spent three nights in the hospital for treatment, said on Sunday he had fully recovered and was no longer infectious, but he did not say directly whether he had tested negative for the coronavirus.

The Republican president, 74, is seeking to change the dynamics of a race that national opinion polls and some state polls show he is losing to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, 77. For months, Trump had worked furiously to shift public attention away from the virus and his handling of the pandemic, which has infected nearly 7.7 million people in the United States, killed more than 214,000 and put millions out of work. His own illness has put the spotlight squarely on his coronavirus response during the closing stretch of the race. Trump's rally in Florida, and planned rallies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Iowa on Wednesday and North Carolina on Thursday, will be watched closely to see whether the president has reshaped his campaign approach since contracting the virus.

Critics fault the president for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events, and even White House staff, to wear protective masks and abide by physical distancing guidelines. At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the coronavirus. Biden, who has said it is irresponsible for any candidate to hold events where attendees are not wearing masks or engaging in physical distancing, lashed out at the president's approach. "President Trump comes to Sanford today bringing nothing but reckless behaviour, divisive rhetoric and fear mongering," Biden said in a statement. Biden headed to Ohio on Monday, a state Trump won by eight percentage points in 2016 and almost certainly must carry again to win. It is Biden's second campaign trip in as many weeks to Ohio, which was once thought out of reach but where polls now show a tight race.

Read more about what's happening in the U.S.

New Brunswick details outdoor mask rules for 2 hotspot regions

New Brunswick clarified when and where people in the Moncton and Campbellton regions must wear face masks while outdoors. The rule was first announced Friday for the Campbellton and Moncton health zones, but no details were initially provided. It was announced as the province moved both regions back to the "orange" recovery phase that limits what businesses can open and the size of gatherings but allows two households to bubble together.

An updated version of the province's emergency declaration order was issued earlier today. The order said masks are mandatory in outdoor locations where people can gather, such as streets, sidewalks, public squares, parks, playgrounds, markets, festival sites, dog parks and walking trails. Masks aren't required in the yard of a single-family home, and are not required while walking, jogging, running, cycling, or at rest alone or with a member of a household bubble. However, if a person is likely to come within two metres of someone from outside their bubble, they must wear a mask.

The new rule was implemented a day after New Brunswick ordered masks to become mandatory in most indoor public spaces across the province, which is similar to the rule in Nova Scotia. Montreal-based epidemiologist Dr. Nimâ Machouf told Radio-Canada on Sunday that masks are helpful when people are close together. But Machouf said there's a lower risk outside when people aren't close together and the wind can carry the coronavirus away. "Asking for things that are not necessary, in my opinion, is not adequate to keep the world attentive to the fight against COVID," Machouf said.

Read more about what's happening in New Brunswick

How TV shows are addressing the pandemic

As TV productions begin filming again, an increasing number of programs are finding the consequences of COVID-19 are too big to ignore. From South Park to Grey's Anatomy, from The Good Doctor to This Is Us and Diggstown, COVID-19 will have a recurring role this fall, writes CBC's Eli Glasner. The pandemic presents an interesting predicament for shows based in the present. Acknowledge the virus or offer audiences a break? Wearing masks on camera may be realistic, but it distances the audiences from the faces they love. Then again, the absence of masks or even any sense of physical contact can feel jarring to watch in 2020.

More than any other genre, medical shows have been affected by the reality of the pandemic in myriad ways. When the virus began spreading, shows such as The Good Doctor donated PPE as filming stopped. Production has begun again in Vancouver where The Good Doctor films. David Shore, the show's creator and executive producer, said when they returned to write the fourth season, they had no choice but to address the pandemic. "If you're only entertaining, then it's a massive waste of an opportunity," the Canadian said. "You have a huge opportunity to not just entertain, but to hopefully inform, hopefully open some eyes and make people think about things a little differently."

As with many programs, Shore is trying to strike a balance between giving the audience a respite and reflecting reality. The Good Doctor will begin the first two episodes with its main character, Dr. Shawn Murphy, in the middle of the pandemic. Then it will shift back to a pre-pandemic setting. But the question of telling the story in the midst of an evolving crisis presents new challenges. Angela Watercutter, a writer covering pop culture for WIRED, thinks the biggest challenge for producers is timing. When it comes to dramatizing the pandemic, we're still living and processing the experience. "Do you do it in two or three years?" she asks. "When maybe it's not so fresh in people's minds and not traumatic?" Watercutter points out films such as Philadelphia and United 93 both had the luxury of time and perspective to reflect back on the AIDS crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks, respectively.

Read more about what's happening on TV

THE SCIENCE

Canada still downplays risk of airborne spread of coronavirus despite WHO, CDC guidance

Canada's guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads still do not acknowledge the threat of infection through the air, despite other countries and international health organizations updating their stance on the issue. As researchers around the world race to learn as much as possible about the novel coronavirus, many health agencies have concluded that it can be transmitted via aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — yet Canada has not followed that lead so far, CBC's Adam Miller writes in the Second Opinion newsletter.

It was originally believed the novel coronavirus spread only via large droplets, which fall and settle on the ground within a distance of two metres — prompting the recommendation of physical distancing and staying two metres away from others. But the World Health Organization amended its guidelines in July to acknowledge the possibility that smaller droplets, also known as aerosols, can lead to outbreaks of COVID-19 in places like choir practices, restaurants and fitness classes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines last week to say COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, after mistakenly posting and later removing a draft version of guidelines.

Yet the Public Health Agency of Canada's guidelines make no mention of aerosol transmission and instead say the virus spreads only through breathing in respiratory droplets, touching contaminated surfaces and common greetings like handshakes and hugs. PHAC told CBC News it is not updating its guidance on airborne transmission — even though it admits aerosol spread has happened. PHAC says its guidance remains the same: limit time spent in closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations where there are "no controls, protocols or policies in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19, like good ventilation." PHAC also recommends maintaining physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.

Dr. Raymond Tellier, an infectious diseases specialist and medical microbiologist who is also an assistant medical professor at McGill University in Montreal, says that by acknowledging ventilation plays a role in curbing transmission of COVID-19, PHAC is admitting that aerosols are a significant route of transmission. That's because ventilation does not change the risk of transmission via larger respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces. "If you promote avoiding a poorly ventilated indoor area, you implicitly admit that you accept aerosol transmission because the ventilation affects only aerosol transmission," he said. "So if you are pushing ventilation, what are you talking about, if not aerosols?"

AND FINALLY...

Daily lives of Italians during pandemic lockdown preserved by photojournalists at new exhibit

A man in Naples walks past a hanging basket with a sign that reads 'those who can, put something in, those who can't, help yourself,' reviving an old Neapolitan custom. The photo is part of a new pandemic exhibit in Rome. (Ciro De Luca)

In late February, Italy became the world epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. It began with alarm in a cluster of 11 small towns in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, where people began to fall fatally ill. Suddenly, the towns were declared red zones and were cut off from the rest of the world. But it was too late. The virus was spreading, and by early March, all of Italy entered a lockdown that would last more than two months. A half a year later, more than 36,000 Italians have died of COVID-19, most in Lombardy.

This week, Lockdown Italia: As Seen by the Foreign Press, which tells the story of those first traumatic months in Italy, opened in Rome's Capitoline Museums. The exhibit features 73 photographs taken by 30 members of Italy's Foreign Press Association who risked their own health to cover the pandemic in Italy — stepping into full protective gear to enter intensive care units, capture the exhaustion of health-care workers at the end of their shift, follow funerals and portray moments of everyday generosity and community across balconies.

The photo of Naples included above is part of the exhibit. During the lockdown, an old Neapolitan custom was revived, where a homemaker would place some money into a basket and lower it to street level, and a butcher or fishmonger would replace it with goods. But this time, residents left the baskets hanging with edibles, encouraging citizens to give and take, writes CBC's Megan Williams.

See more photos from the exhibit here

Find out more about COVID-19

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19's impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here's what to do in your part of the country.

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

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

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