The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

By Canadian Press

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):

9:20 p.m.

Metro is raising wages for grocery store and distribution centre workers by $2 per hour during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grocer says the wage boost is effective from March 8 to May 2.

The chain says the temporary raise is an acknowledgment of the tough but necessary work their employees are doing during an unprecedented time.

It says it’s also introducing plexiglass guards to service counters to help protect staffers from the virus.

8 p.m.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board is recommending its 56,000 members stop holding in-person open houses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TRREB says it will “suppress” open houses on its websites because the practice is not conducive to social distancing.

The board says the decision to hold open houses ultimately lies with the real estate brokerage, but the organization is strongly recommending they stop.

7:30 p.m.

The Quebec government is forbidding most indoor and outdoor gatherings in its effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A cabinet decree adopted today extending the province’s public health emergency until March 29 says the measure is necessary because of the serious threat the pandemic poses to the public.

The only exceptions for indoor gatherings are at workplaces not closed by government order, at stores and government offices to receive services, in public transit and for people who reside under the same roof or are providing a service or support in a home.

The decree says outdoor gatherings are permitted if the people gathered stay at least two metres apart or if they are members of the same household.

7:20 p.m.

Officials in Manitoba are reporting another presumptive case of COVID-19 in the province.

The government says the patient is a Winnipeg woman in her 30s and officials believe the case is related to travel.

The development brings the number of presumptive and confirmed cases in Manitoba to 19.

6:30 p.m.

The Business Council of Canada has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enforce a strict self-isolation policy across the country to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Goldy Hyder, the organization’s president and CEO, says “all Canadians should be told, not asked or advised,” to stay home.

Hyder allowed that Canadians should be able to leave their homes if their jobs are essential or to purchase food and other necessities.

The letter warns Trudeau that “every day we delay will cost lives.”

6:00 p.m.

Health officials in Alberta believe 16 of the province’s COVID-19 cases could be the result of community transmission.

Alberta is reporting 31 new cases of the disease, bringing the province’s total to 226.

Of those cases, 11 people are in hospital and six are in intensive care.

5:10 p.m.

The Saskatchewan government says it now has the capability to perform COVID-19 testing within the province.

The government says the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory in Regina now has the ability to do confirmatory testing, which will speed up obtaining results.

It says the tensing also means that 17 new cases reported in Saskatchewan today have already been confirmed and that officials will no longer be reporting presumptive cases.

It says the lab is processing about 456 COVID-19 tests a day.

Saskatchewan now has 44 cases of COVID-19 in total — 25 cases which are confirmed and 19 cases that are presumptive.

3:10 p.m.

British Columbia’s provincial health officer says there are 76 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total to 424.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are 27 people in hospital, 12 of whom are in intensive care. Six people have recovered. 

She says there has also been another death associated with the Lynn Valley long-term care home in North Vancouver.

Henry says the province is ordering all personal service establishments to close, including salons, spas, and massage and tattoo parlours.

3 p.m.

Nova Scotia has six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 21. 

All are travel-related.

The 21 individuals affected range in age from late-teens to mid-70’s.

Dentists can no longer practise in the province unless it’s an emergency.


2:56 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador has two new presumptive cases of COVID-19.

One case is woman who returned from international travel and the other is women who returned from a cruise.

That brings the provincial total to six cases.

Health Minister John Haggie says he heard from cabbies that Friday night was as busy as any Friday night, but instead of people going to bars, people were going to house parties.

He stressed that people need to practise social distancing.

2:30 p.m.

A third person has died in Ontario because of COVID-19.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit confirmed the death of the man who was in his 70s today.

The man had been in close contact with another man who was the province’s first COVID-19 related death on March 11.

2:15 p.m.

New Brunswick has six new presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Four of the people had been on a cruise ship, while the other two were close contacts to travel-related cases.

There are now seven confirmed cases and 10 presumptive cases in New Brunswick for a total of 17.

Residents of New Brunswick’s Campobello Island must travel through part of Maine to get to the New Brunswick mainland.

With the border closed, Premier Blaine Higgs says he has been assured that anyone who needs to travel between the island and the mainland for essential services will be allowed to do so.

2 p.m.

British Columbia’s housing minister says help is on the way to ensure renters are not evicted as the province cracks down on the spread of the new coronavirus.

Selina Robinson says the B.C. government is banning evictions for non-payment of rent in buildings funded by BC Housing.

1:45 p.m.

Ontario’s health minister says the province is asking the doctors and pharmacists not to re-fill prescriptions for more than 30 days to prevent drug shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christine Elliott says pharmacists have told the government some patients have been requesting refills of up to six months.

The government says doctors and pharmacists will be allowed to use their own discretion if they believe a patient requires more than a 30 day supply.

1:30 p.m.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is appealing to the province’s manufacturing sector to help produce key medical supplies.

Ford says there are shortages of many items needed by health workers because of global demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The premier says any company that can produce items like ventilators, face masks, surgical gowns, protective eye-wear and hand sanitizers should reach out to the government.

The province has established a dedicated website to help manufacturers communicate what they can provide.


1:20 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says there are now 181 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, up from 139 yesterday.

Legault also announced four new deaths.

Quebec now has a total of five deaths linked to the virus, four of which are tied to one seniors residence in the province’s Lanaudiere region.

The premier says the jump in cases was to be expected, as the province has increased its testing capacity.

1:09 p.m.

P.E.I. is asking anyone who has travelled internationally or within Canada to self-isolate for 14 days when coming to the Island.

New screening measures are in place at all entry points to P.E.I. including the Confederation Bridge, ferries and airport, but the province is not closing its boundaries.

The screening includes asking questions and providing information on self-isolating.

P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says there are no new cases of COVID-19 to add to the two previously reported on the Island.

11:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says lock downs in other countries and air-space restrictions due to COVID-19 mean Canada won’t be able to get every citizen home who is trapped abroad.

Trudeau is urging Canadians currently stuck in foreign countries to make safe decisions, stay in touch with Global Affairs and not head to airports unless they have a confirmed seat on a flight back.

Trudeau says the federal government is working with airlines to arrange flights to countries where Canadians are.

Trudeau says the government will help cover some of the costs for these flights, but passengers will be expected to pay a reasonable price.

11:18 a.m.

The Northwest Territories is planning to ban non-essential travel into the territory.

In a news release, the N.W.T. says chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola will make an order under the territory’s Public Health Act effective today.

Residents returning to the territory will be required to self-isolate in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, or Inuvik.

The news release says disobeying the order is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in jail.

10:51 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 59 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the province to 377.

The total includes six resolved cases and two deaths.

No information is listed for more than half of the new cases, but a man in his 40s from the Simcoe-Muskoka area has been hospitalized with the virus.

Public Health Ontario says he contracted the illness during travel to England.

Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement later today related to COVID-19 with his health and economic development ministers.

4:00 a.m.

An Air Canada flight bringing a group of Canadians home from Morocco is expected to land in Montreal today.

The repatriation flight departing from Casablanca was arranged with the help of the federal government.

Thousands of Canadians stranded abroad are becoming increasingly desperate as countries close borders and airlines cut flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

12:15 a.m.

British Columbia is reporting 77 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 348.

That includes nine deaths.

B.C. has the highest number of cases in the country, surpassing the 318 being reported in Ontario.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says 22 patients are in acute care and the province will spare no effort to ensure it has the equipment in place to protect health care and other essential workers.

12:00 a.m.

The new normal at Canada-U.S. border crossings went into effect at midnight.

In the ongoing struggle to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 cases all non-essential cross border traffic, such as tourists and people looking to do some shopping, is now banned until further notice.

Travel considered essential is still allowed, such as truckers hauling freight, health professionals and others who work on one side of the border but live on the other.


The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Nova Scotia had six new presumptive cases and gave an incorrect number of B.C. cases based on government information. It also said that the four deaths announced in Quebec were all linked to the same seniors home.

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