- Canada Recovery Benefit begins for Canadians who missed work due to pandemic.
- Officials urge caution over Thanksgiving weekend.
- Cases show steady growth in most provinces.
- Businesses in England face new restrictions.
- China to test all nine million people in one eastern city.
Canadians who have missed work because of COVID-19 can start applying for new financial support from the federal government on Monday.
The new benefit 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 caused by the coronavirus.
Applications for the new Canada Recovery Benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency.
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 due to COVID-19.
Women have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings because 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 who 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 due to 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 multibillion-dollar suite of 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.
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As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic washes over the country, Canadians from coast to coast are being asked to limit the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings or keep them entirely virtual.
Canada’s chief public health officer said last week’s troubling surge in infections means that some guests may be missing from the Thanksgiving table.
But Dr. Theresa Tam said the best way for Canadians to show their gratitude this long holiday weekend is to keep each other safe by staying away from anyone outside their immediate circle.
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“What is usually a special tradition for many Canadians, will serve as a hard reminder of how much we are sacrificing to protect ourselves, those we love and our communities,” Tam said in a statement Sunday.
“As difficult as it may be, we need to continue on the right path and recommit, for ourselves and our loved ones, to follow the public health practices that helped us flatten the curve in the spring.”
With daily case counts continuing to rise in some provinces, increased restrictions came into effect in several hot spots heading into the long weekend.
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What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 181,864 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 153,219 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,613.
In the so-called Atlantic bubble, New Brunswick was the only COVID-19 hot spot this weekend.
Newfoundland and Labrador has nine active cases but had no new cases on Sunday; Prince Edward Island‘s chief public health officer announced two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and three active cases overall; Nova Scotia had no new cases Sunday and four active cases.
New Brunswick is dealing with two outbreaks, one in the Moncton area and the other in Campbellton. There are now 71 active cases in the province, 34 coming this past weekend. Five people are in the hospital with one in intensive care.
In Quebec, the province reported 942 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Sunday. There are 437 people in hospital, including 72 in intensive care.
Ontario reported 649 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with one more death and four new hospitalizations. There are 217 people in hospital with the virus. Fifty-one are in intensive care units, and 32 of those are on ventilators.
Manitoba reported 54 new cases on Sunday. Among those is a Winnipeg police officer, the province said.
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Saskatchewan added 24 cases and one death on Sunday. The province said public health investigations have linked 12 of Sunday’s new cases to the Gospel Outreach outbreak in Prince Albert, and the majority of the new Regina cases appear to be from the same apartment complex.
Alberta reported 277 new cases on Friday and one new death. That brings the province to a total of 2,225 active cases, up 128 from the previous day. At the peak in late April, there were nearly 3,000 active cases in the province.
British Columbia reported 119 new cases Friday. There were 1,406 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.
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In the territories, Yukon has a new probable case of COVID-19, the territory’s chief medical officer of health announced on Saturday.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 37.5 million. More than one million people have died, while more than 26.1 million have recovered.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday impose a tiered system of further restrictions on parts of England as the COVID-19 outbreak accelerates, though anger is rising at the cost of the stringent curtailment of freedoms.
Johnson’s three-tiered local lockdowns will include shutting bars, gyms, casinos and bookmakers in some areas placed into the “very high” alert level, probably across the north of England, British media reported.
Authorities in Belgium, one of the European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, are warning that the number of cases is rising at a “quite alarming” rate and that 10,000 people could be catching the virus each day by the end of the week.
Yves Van Laethem, a spokesperson for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis centre, says that “all the indicators continue to rise, it must be said, in a quite alarming way, in all provinces and all age groups.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 162,200 people have been infected with the virus in Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million people. As of Monday, 10,191 people were reported to have died from the disease.
Last week, the government tightened its coronavirus restrictions. Close contacts are limited to a maximum of three people outside of a household. In the capital, Brussels, which is seeing more than 800 new cases each day, bars and cafes were ordered to close for at least a month.
Officials in Sri Lanka say they have suspended bringing back expatriates stranded overseas due to the coronavirus because the country’s quarantine facilities are full.
Army Cmdr. Shavendra Silva, who heads the task force to control the pandemic, says Sri Lanka’s quarantine facilities have filled up amid a steep rise in COVID-19 patients in the past week.
Sri Lanka had earlier announced that it successfully contained the spread of the virus, and no local clusters were reported for two months.
However, a cluster that originated from a garment factory earlier this month has led to 1,307 new cases in just one week.
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Slovakia is imposing a new restrictive measure that limits the number of people who can meet in response to a record surge of coronavirus infections.
The government says only up to six people are allowed to gather, starting on Tuesday. Members of one family are an exception.
Monday’s announcement comes a day after the government approved a series of restrictions, making it mandatory again to wear face masks outdoors and banning all public events, including religious services in churches.
Also, fitness and wellness centres and public swimming pools will be closed. Restaurants will be banned from serving meals indoors, while the number of people in stores will be limited.
Scientific advisers to Italy‘s government have modified Italy’s coronavirus quarantine rules, reducing to 10 days the 14-day minimum quarantine for people who test positive or have come into contact with someone who tested positive.
The shift, which follows reductions taken by other European countries, was an acknowledgement of the impracticability of asking tens of thousands of people to remain isolated for two weeks as a precaution, even as infections are rising sharply. In addition, in a bid to reduce pressure on Italy’s overwhelmed laboratories, the advisers also decided that only one negative test is required to get out of quarantine, rather than two.
The scientific committee issued revised guidelines late Sunday as Italy is seeing a surge in new infections, averaging more than 5,000 a day. While still far fewer than the daily increases in Spain, France or Britain, Italy’s surge is prompting the government to consider new restrictions.
China‘s government says all nine million people in the eastern city of Qingdao will be tested for the coronavirus this week after nine cases linked to a hospital were found.
The announcement Monday broke a string of weeks without any locally transmitted infections reported in China.
The National Health Commission said authorities were investigating the source of the infections found in eight patients at Qingdao’s Municipal Chest Hospital and one family member. The commission said the whole city will be tested within five days.
The last reported virus transmissions within China were four patients found on Aug. 15 in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the far western Xinjiang region. All the cases reported since then were in travellers from outside the mainland.
India has reported 66,732 new coronavirus cases, driving the country’s overall tally to more than 7.1 million.
The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 816 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 109,150.
India is second in the world in number of infections, behind only the United States, which has reported more than 7.7 million cases.
India has seen the spread of the virus slow down since mid-September, when daily infections touched a record high of 97,894 cases. It’s averaging more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month.
Authorities in Indonesia‘s capital have moved to ease coronavirus restrictions despite a surge in cases nationwide.
Jakarta previously imposed large-scale social restrictions from April to June, then eased them gradually. The city reimposed strict restrictions last month as the virus spread significantly and overwhelmed its health system.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan said Sunday that his administration decided to ease restrictions beginning Monday as the increase in infections had stabilized.
He said people can return to offices with limits on employee numbers, while transport services will run at half capacity. Cinemas, gyms and tourism sites can reopen at a maximum 25 per cent of capacity.