23 Canadians at quarantine sites and Trump criticizes WHO; In The News for April 8

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of April 8 ...

COVID-19 in Canada ...

article continues below

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today further measures to financially support entrepreneurs, small businesses and young people who aren't eligible for previously unveiled emergency federal aid programs.

Among other things, Trudeau is expected to announce a retooled Canada Summer Jobs program aimed at helping students find work in those industries that haven't shut down due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government has already unveiled the $24-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who've lost their jobs and a $71-billion wage subsidy program for companies that have lost 30 per cent of their revenues because of the health crisis.

But in the rush to get those programs up and running as fast as possible, eligibility rules were set that threaten to leave hundreds of thousands of Canadians without financial assistance.

An analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives last week estimated one-third of unemployed Canadians, about 862,000, won't get help from employment insurance or the CERB. Another 390,000 will get some help, but below the $500 per week under the CERB.

Among those who may be left out are contract or gig economy workers who want to keep small jobs or who can't afford to go without work for two weeks to qualify for the emergency benefit.

Volunteer firefighters or municipal politicians who receive an honorarium for their work, even if they have lost their day jobs due to COVID-19, could also be shut out.

Trudeau has repeatedly affirmed that more help is coming for those who've fallen through the cracks between the emergency aid programs announced so far.

---

Also this ...

The Trudeau government says 23 Canadians were being held at federal quarantine sites as the week began to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The newly released figure, the most current available, provides a glimpse into how the federal government is using its considerable powers under the Quarantine Act in an effort to contain the virus.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says that as of Sunday night, the almost two dozen Canadians were in federally designated quarantine sites and federally supported self-quarantine lodgings.

The agency set up the sites and says it is working with partners to manage them.

Agency spokeswoman Maryse Durette says no information about the location of the sites is being disclosed to protect the privacy of quarantined Canadians.

Under the Quarantine Act, the health minister can designate any place in Canada as a quarantine facility.

An emergency order under the quarantine law requires all travellers returning to Canada to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. Those with symptoms must put on a mask before leaving the airport.

---

COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

President Donald Trump threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had "missed the call" on the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump also played down the release of January memos from a senior adviser that represented an early warning of a possible coronavirus pandemic, saying he had not seen them at the time. But he turned his anger on the WHO, first declaring that he would cut off U.S. funding for the organization, then backtracking and saying he would "strongly consider" such a move.

Trump said the international group had "called it wrong" on the virus and that the organization was "very China-centric" in its approach, suggesting that the WHO had gone along with Beijing's efforts months ago to minimize the severity of the outbreak. The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, even though there has been reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the country's official tally.

"They should have known and they probably did know," Trump said of WHO officials.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has voiced skepticism toward many international organizations and has repeatedly heaped scorn on the WHO. In its most recent budget proposal, in February, the Trump administration called for slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO from an estimated $122.6 million to $57.9 million.

The organization's current guidance does not advocate closing borders or restricting travel, though many nations, including the United States, have enacted those steps. The WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on Jan. 30, nearly a month before Trump tweeted that "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA" and a full 43 days before he declared a national emergency in the United States.

---

COVID-19 around the world ...

After 11 weeks of lockdown, the first train departed Wednesday morning from a re-opened Wuhan, the origin point for the coronavirus pandemic, as residents once again were allowed to travel in and out of the sprawling central Chinese city.

Wuhan's unprecedented lockdown served as a model for countries battling the coronavirus around the world. With restrictions now lifted, Hubei's provincial capital embarks on another experiment: resuming business and ordinary life while seeking to keep the number of new cases down.

As of just after midnight Wednesday, the city's 11 million residents are now permitted to leave without special authorization as long as a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the broad Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients, along with one displaying the words "heroic city," a title bestowed on Wuhan by president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. Along the embankments and bridges, citizens waved flags, chanted "Wuhan, let's go!" and sang a capella renditions of China's national anthem.

"I haven't been outside for more than 70 days," said an emotional Tong Zhengkun, who was watching the display from a bridge. Residents in his apartment complex had contracted COVID-19, so the entire building was shut down. He couldn't go out even to buy groceries, which neighbourhood workers brought to his door.

"Being indoors for so long drove me crazy," he said.

---

Also this...

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in stable condition with the coronavirus Tuesday in a hospital intensive care unit, where he was given oxygen but was breathing on his own without a ventilator, officials said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has temporarily taken over many of the prime minister's duties to lead the country's response to the pandemic while Johnson is being treated. Britain has no official post of deputy prime minister.

The 55-year-old Johnson is the first major world leader confirmed to have COVID-19. He was admitted to St. Thomas' Hospital late Sunday with a fever and cough that persisted 10 days after he was diagnosed with the virus and was moved to the ICU on Monday evening after his condition worsened.

At a news conference, Raab said the government's thoughts were with Johnson's family and his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant and is herself recovering from coronavirus symptoms.

"He is not just the prime minister. For all of us in Cabinet, he is not just our boss. He's also a colleague and he's also our friend," Raab said.

"And I'm confident he'll pull through because if there's one thing I know about this prime minister, he's a fighter."

Johnson was "receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance," Raab said, adding: "He has not required mechanical ventilation or noninvasive respiratory support."

---

COVID-19 in entertainment...

John Prine, the ingenious singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in "Angel from Montgomery," "Sam Stone," "Hello in There" and scores of other indelible tunes, died Tuesday at the age of 73.

His family announced his death from complications from the coronavirus; he died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

His wife Fiona said last month that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and she has since recovered, but her husband was hospitalized on March 26 with coronavirus symptoms. He was put on a ventilator and remained in the intensive care unit for several days.

Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, Prine was a virtuoso of the soul, if not the body. He sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a hard-luck life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.

He joked that he fumbled so often on the guitar, taught to him as a teenager by his older brother, that people thought he was inventing a new style. But his open-heartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humour brought him the highest admiration from critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from such younger stars as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him.

In 2017, Rolling Stone proclaimed him "The Mark Twain of American songwriting."

---

COVID-19 in sports...

The Canadian Grand Prix has become the latest major sports event in the country to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Montreal-based Formula One race was scheduled to take place June 12-14 before Wednesday's postponement.

Formula One said it hopes to reschedule the event this year.

Race organizers said in a statement that they were "saddened" to postpone the race and that the decision was made in consultation with Formula One and representatives from the City of Montreal, Tourism Montreal and provincial and federal governments.

"This postponement was not a decision that was taken lightly or easily," the statement said.

The postponement came hours after the CFL pushed back the start of its regular season in June. Last week, another major Canadian sports event scheduled for June — the Queen's Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto — also was postponed.

The RBC Canadian Open, June 11-14 at St. George's Golf and Country Club in Toronto, remains on the PGA Tour schedule but Golf Canada and RBC said in a joint statement last week they are evaluating their options.

---

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2020.

Read Related Topics

© New West Record
Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!