COVID-19 in Canada: Officials suggest wearing non-medical masks, while Canada-U.S. tussle over shipments

Yahoo News Canada is committed to providing our readers with the most accurate and recent information on all things coronavirus. We know things change quickly, including some possible information in this story. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage our readers to consult online resources like Canada’s public health website, World Health Organization, as well as our own Yahoo Canada homepage.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians seem to be increasingly concerned about their health and safety

Currently, there are more than 12,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada and 180 deaths.

Check back for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Canada.

For a full archive of the first month of the pandemic, please check our archive of events.

Apr. 6

4:00 p.m.: Provincial updates


There are now 4,347 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, an increase of 309 in the last 24 hours. Most of the cases, 52 per cent, are in the Greater Toronto Area.

There are 132 confirmed deaths related to the virus and 46 outbreak in long term care facilities.

There are currently 589 patients with COVID-19 in hospital, of which 216 are in intensive are and 160 on a ventilator.

The province has tested almost 79,000 people and 329 are still under investigation. Since January, 451 healthcare workers have been infected.

When asked if Ontario has reached its peak in terms of new COVID-19 cases in the province, Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, said it’s too early to tell but working through the backlog of tests has enabled officials and the public to see more “real-time” data.

“I wouldn’t be jumping to any conclusions at this stage,” Dr. Williams said. “We want to continue to monitor how well our public health measures are doing.”


Quebec Premier François Legault is encouraged after seeing the number of hospitalizations in the province increase by only eight on Monday, bringing the total to 533.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province is at 8,580, 636 more than a day before, and 121 people have died from the virus in Quebec.

The premier added that the next month will be a critical time for the province and everyone must follow the measures in place, particularly physical distancing.

Nova Scotia

There are currently 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia and 10,218 people have tested negative for the virus. A total of 64 cases are considered resolved.

The province has now removed travel as a requirement for testing, as community spread has become a greater concern.

“As we see the beginning of community spread, it is critical we take further measures to protect our family members in long-term care homes,” a statement from Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, reads. “The directive will ensure that each facility, regardless of size, has all the information and resources to protect our seniors in their care.”

1:30 p.m.: ‘Our supplies in Ontario are getting very low’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the province had two orders of almost four million masks from the U.S., which were stopped by the American government. He confirmed that 500,000 N95 masks from 3M have been released by the U.S. but have not arrived in the province yet.

“Our supplies in Ontario are getting very low,” Ford said. “We’re down to a week, if these 500,000 come in that buys us another week.”

He added that “firecracker” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is “working around the clock” to ensure that Canada can receive supplies from the U.S. The premier has also spoke to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who has given Ford some optimism that the province will be able to receive the supplies required.

“I have a little bit of optimism right now that we’re going to get this resolved with the U.S. government and ask them to exempt Canada from the presidential order,” the premier said. “Getting it across the border right now is very difficult.”

Ford added that Health Canada has now approved Level 3 masks form Woodbridge Group, which he plans on showing to the public on Tuesday.

Support for Families initiative

As of today, the Ontario government’s Support for Families initiative is now available for people in the province.

Families can now apply for a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs.

“Every dollar counts,” Ford said.

12:15 p.m.: Benefit of wearing non-medical masks

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam said that the developing scientific knowledge of COVID-19 has revealed that there is evidence of transmission of the virus by pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people.

Pre-symptomatic people are individuals who can spread the virus, through droplets, before symptoms arise while asymptomatic people are individuals who carry the virus but never show any symptoms.

The chief public health officer added that we still don’t know how important pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread has been in this pandemic.

Dr. Tam said that in light of the latest information, wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that can help individuals not spread their droplets in areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, like the grocery store and public transit, before someone knows that they have the illness.

She stressed that there is no evidence that wearing a mask actually protects the person wearing it from getting the virus but can assist with that person not spreading it to others. Dr. Tam added that we need to keep the supply of medical masks where it is needed, with healthcare workers.

When asked why the recommendation didn’t come sooner, especially considering countries around the world have flattened the curve with mask use, Tam urged that there still isn’t every much evidence to suggest mask-use helps those wearing one, but instead protects others.

The chief public health officer confirmed that there are 15,822 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 293 confirmed deaths. A total of 339,000 Canadians have been tested and about five per cent have been positive.

Dr. Tam said the decrease in cases in B.C. in the last week gives us “cautious optimism” and “encourages” us that “collective action can slow the spread of this pandemic.” But she added that measures cannot be relaxed.

‘That flow is a two-way street’

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed that she spoke to Ontario Premier Doug Ford about an order of masks to the province from the U.S. “having some difficulties being shipped across the border.” She said the Canadian government had “positive conversations” with the U.S. about this over the weekend and said the relationship is “reciprocal” and “that flow is a two-way street.”

“We believe that the flow of medical equipment...needs to continue unimpeded and that, of course, is a two-way street,” Freeland said. “Both countries benefit from this and both countries would lose out if hurdles were to be put in the way of that flow.”

“We made that point in repeated conversations over the weekend and today. We feel we are being heard and we look forward to a definitive resolution of this situation.”

Minister Freeland said she has also spoken with the CEO of 3M and applauded the company for “taking a very responsible position.”

11:30: a.m.: ‘We expect those supplies to be delivered’

Earlier today, Ontario Premier Doug Ford told CityNews that healthcare workers in the province will run out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in a week after a “massive” shipment of masks was stopped by the U.S. government on Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not confirm whether in fact a shipment was stopped, but said there have been problems with international shipments being delayed or arriving with less equipment than expected.

Trudeau said the exchange of healthcare supplies and healthcare workers between Canada and the U.S. “are very much a two-way street.”

“We are working with [the U.S.] to ensure that the orders that Canada has placed get delivered,” the prime minister said. “We expect those supplies to be delivered.”

Applications open for emergency cash benefit

Trudeau reminded Canadians that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is now available. People who were born in January, February or March can apply today and 248,000 have already successfully applied. Anyone who signed up for direct deposit should receive their first payment in three to five days.

The prime minister added that the government will be announcing additional measures of financial assistance for people working reduced hours (10 hours or less), Canadians making less money than they were previously and students who won’t be able to have summer jobs.

“Whatever your situation, we are working to give you the help you need,” Trudeau said.

Apr. 3

7:00 p.m.: Number of people in B.C. hospitals drops

There have been four more COVID-19 deaths in B.C. but the province confirmed that for the first time in weeks, the number of people in hospitals with the virus has dropped.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are now 146 people in hospitals in the B.C., three fewer than Thursday, and 64 in intensive care, four fewer than the day before.

A total of 176 cases are connected to longterm care homes, with 1,174 confirmed cases in total, an increase of 53 since Thursday. Dr. Henry said 641 people have recovered.

“These next two weeks is our time, this is our line, where we’re going to understand if those measures we put in place are working,” Dr. Henry said. “I see a glimmer of hope. We are mot seeing dramatic increases in the number of people who are positive, the number of people who are needing hospitalization and ICU care.”

Alberta passes 1,000 cases

There are now 1,075 COVID-19 cases in Alberta, with more than 100 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours. The death toll in the province is now at 18 and 196 people have recovered.

When asked about how people have recovered in the province, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said it is too early to say if any interventions have worked. This includes medications and possible treatment. Dr. Hinshaw said most of the recovered cases had mild symptoms and were able to stay at home.

4:00 p.m.: $1,000 fine in Toronto

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced that anyone in a city park, square or public space within a two-metre distance of someone they don’t live with will face a fine of $1,000.

Tory said this value is “the maximum the court could give us.”

Toronto police have issued 21 physical distancing tickets to date.

There are currently 986 COVID-19 cases in the city, 812 are confirmed and the resent of probably cases, and there have been 13 deaths. A total of 89 people are in hospital, 42 in intensive care units. Currently, 27 per cent of cases are attributed to community spread.

“It's tough medicine we're being asked to take here,” Tory said.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said Toronto could see between 600 and 3,000 COVID-19 deaths in the city by the end of the pandemic.

“If we all do our part, we can still reduce these numbers,” Dr. de Villa said.

3:30 p.m.: ‘Small slip ups have impact’

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said there are 3,255 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province, and increase of 462 cases in one day, and 67 lab confirmed deaths.

Officials are aware of at least 32 outbreaks in longterm care homes, related to 24 deaths, both lab confirmed and epidemiologically linked.

A total of 462 cases are in hospitals, with 194 in intensive care and 140 on ventilators.

Dr. Yaffe said 1,023 cases are resolved and close to 5,500 tests were conducted in one day.

Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, reinforced that everyone in the province needs to do their part to stay home as much as possible, particle in these two weeks following a large number of people returning to the province.

He added that “small slip ups have impact,” but the latest modelling data says that Ontarians have made a positive impact so far.

3:00 p.m.: ‘Is a life worth a picnic in the park?’

Following the release of the forecasts for the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, premier Doug Ford said the provincial government will continue to be “transparent” about projections moving forward. He added that it is important for people in the province to take this outbreak seriously and stay home to prevent the spread.

“These are forecasts and projections, and they can change,” Ford said. “We can...flatten the curve.”

“Is a life worth a picnic in the park? Is a life worth going to the beach? Is a life worth having a few cold ones with your buddies in the basement? The answer is no.”

As an additional measure, as of 11:59 p.m. on Apr. 4, industrial construction sites will be shut down for 14 days, the exception being critical projects like hospitals and transportation. No new residential construction can commence in Ontario.

The list of essential businesses in the province has also changed and no longer has cannabis stores listed.

Ford ‘disappointed’ with Trump

When asked about Trump’s move to stop 3M from sending masks to Canada, Ford said he is “disappointed” and spoke to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about this earlier today.

“I just can’t stress how disappointed I am with President Trump for making this decision,” Ford said. “I understand, he’s thinking I have to take care of my own people but we’re connected and even in saying that, I’m not going to rely on president Trump, I’m not going to rely on any prime minister or president or any country ever again.”

“When those assemblies start we aren’t going to stop them. We’ll make sure we supply supplies for everyone in Canada, not just Ontario.”

12:30 p.m.: Ontario models forecast between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths

Ontario has released its modelling data with possible forecasts for the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

The main message from experts is that each person in Ontario needs to do their part to stop the spread of the virus, highlighting that the public will impact the eventual outcome.

“The outcome is in the public’s hands,” Peter Donnelly, president and CEO of Public Health Ontario said on Friday. “It’s about breaking the chain of infection and it’s very important that we all realize...we have a personal opportunity to do that.”

“This isn’t about flattening the curve, it’s about chopping the head off the top.”

Projected Ontario Cases by April 30, 2020

Donnelly said that we are “some way off” from lifting any measures currently in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

He added that “bearing down hard now” will result in the virus coming to an end and the economy bouncing back more quickly.

Donnelly also highlighted that modelling is a very “inexact” science, particularly for a new virus. As a reference, Ontario loses 1,350 people to normal seasonal flu per year.

  • Deaths without public health measures (without any intervention at all) are expected to be 100,000 in Ontario, lowered to between 3,000 and 15,000 with the current public health measures in place.

  • The data shows that the measures put in place, including physical distancing, self-isolation following travel, prohibiting large gatherings and work from home arrangements, have been effective to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Projected cases in the province, without any intervention, is 300,000 cases by Apr. 30 but the forecast with the current measures is 80,000 cases.

  • Projected deaths with no intervention is 6,000 by Apr. 30, with the current measures the modelling has predicted 1,600 deaths.

  • The lifespan of COVID-19 in the province could be between 18-months and two years.

Projected Ontario Deaths by April 30, 2020

Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health said that currently, hospitals have the capacity to mange COVID-19 patients but if there is a spike in hospitalizations, it would be “very difficult” to project.

There are currently 410 ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients with 900 additional beds can be added.

The “worst case” forecast for Ontario ICU capacity predicts more than 3,400 beds will be needed by the end of the month. The “best case” would see the need top out just over 1,200 around Apr. 18, getting lower as the month progresses.

Ontario ICU Capacity for COVID-19

12:00 p.m.: Disease’s course could take ‘several weeks’ to address

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are 11,747 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 152 deaths. More than 290,000 people have tested and about 95 per cent have been negative.

Dr. Tam said areas that seem to be the hardest hit in the country, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, are still “managing” the outbreak.

She added that the disease’s course can take “several weeks” to progress and that should be kept in mind when looking at the sharp increase in deaths in Canada.

Dr. Tam indicated that we can find “hope” in that fact that countries hit particularly hard by the virus, like Italy, are showing signs that the outbreak has peaked.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland emphasized that in light of rumours that the U.S. had deferred personal protective equipment bound for Quebec to Ohio, Canada's government was working to maintain a strong Canada-U.S. relationship. She stressed that it was integral for both countries in the interest of economic and security reasons.

"In times of crisis, like this global pandemic, all relationships at every level can face challenges, and this is no exception," said Freeland.

She said that thus far, Canada has maintained to keep the pipeline of medical supplies and PPE from the United States open, and they will continue to provide medical professionals with the tools they need to do their jobs safely.

Freeland pointed to NAFTA negotiations as an example that when necessary, Canada is prepared to stand up to the United States in order to defend national interests and the safety and wellbeing of Canadians.

Dr. Tam was asked about recent studies coming out that suggested more people should be wearing masks when out in public. She said that she and the public health department were also reading the studies, and adapting their approach over time based on new information.

While official recommendations are not changing, Dr. Tam said wearing a mask -- even a homemade one -- could be helpful in a community setting if you suspect you could be presymptomatic or asymptomatic for COVID-19. She equated it to how people are encouraged to cover their mouths with their arm when they cough to prevent the spread of infected particles.

But Dr. Tam also said that, first and foremost, medical masks shoud be reserved for those who need them the most: people who are managing patients.

11:30 a.m.: ‘It would be a mistake to create blockages’

3M, one of the world’s largest makers of consumer products, said on Thursday that the White House told the company to stop exporting medical-grade face masks to the Canada. 3M pushed back suggesting doing so would cause huge “humanitarian implications.”

When asked about 3M pushing back on the White House’s attempt to prevent its N95 masks from being sent to Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 3M understands the importance of delivering its products to Canada. The prime minister added that the U.S. also receives essential supplies from Canada, in addition to thousands of Canadian healthcare workers in Windsor, Ont., who work across the border in Detroit.

“The level of integration between our economies goes both ways across the border,” Trudeau said. “These are things that Americans rely on and it would be a mistake to create blockages.”

“That is the point we’re making very clearly to the American administration right now.”

Canada’s models

With Ontario Premier Doug Ford set to release the province’s modelling analysis on Friday, the prime minister was asked about the federal government’s models and when that information will be released to the public.

Trudeau said he continues to work with provincial and territorial leaders on data and modelling. He added that the government is releasing data “every single day” but more information will be shared “in coming days.”

Additional funding and PPE distribution

Following several reports that healthcare workers across the country do not have enough personal protective equipment, Trudeau announced that Canada has signed an agreement with Amazon to distribute these supplies.

The prime minister also said the government is investing $100 million to “meet the urgent food needs” of Canadians. This will support organizations like Food Banks Canada, Breakfast Club and Salvation Army.

The prime minister added that the GST credit for low income Canadians, $300 for each adult and $150 for each child, will be available in April instead of May.

Apr. 2

6:00 p.m.: Provincial updates

British Columbia

B.C. has 55 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 1,121. There are 149 people in hospital and 68 in intensive care.

A total of 31 people have died from the virus, six deaths have been confirmed in the last day.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 641 people have recovered.

“We need to be incredibly careful about what we’re doing,” Dr. Henry said.

She also confirmed that there is a COVID-19 case at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.

Dr. Henry said that the work of everyone in the province to practice physical distancing and self-isolation is why the number of cases in the province is growing “in a manageable way.”


There are 97 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total to 968. A total of 13 people have died from the virus in the province and 174 people have recovered.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said that 98 per cent of tests in the province have been negative.


Quebec has more than 5,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 545 in 24 hours, and 36 deaths. There are 365 people in hospital and 96 in intensive care across the province.

Premier Francois Legault has now asked local police forces to more strictly enforce the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Fines of up to $6,000 will be given to people going against these rules.


There are more than 2,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of more than 500 in one day, and 53 reported deaths. A total of 26 outbreak are in longterm care homes, 405 are in hospital and 167 and in intensive care. A total of 831 cases are considered resolved.

“We know this is an under representation of the numbers,” Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe said, adding that the numbers are contingent on local public health units submitting their information to the integrated Public Health Information System.

Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said he has not seen the final modelling that Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced will be released tomorrow, but clarified that modelling is forecasting while the data, that is released daily, “tell you the reality” of where we are at the moment.

Dr. Yaffe said that it is still important to prioritize testing people who are symptomatic instead of testing “everybody.”

“Everybody is 14 million people, I don't think we're at that capacity yet,” she said.

2:00 p.m.: Ontario will release COVID-19 data on Friday

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the government will release the modelling data and analysis for the COVID-19 outbreak in the province tomorrow.

“You deserve to know what I know. You deserve to see what I see when I am making decisions,” the premier said. “That will be a real wake up call.”

Ford said these “stark” figures will be “hard for some people to hear” but he hopes this will further urge people in Ontario to follow the isolation and physical distancing measures in place.

This announcement follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that the federal government is still working with provincial and territorial governments to “align” the data before releasing the information to the public.

“I would never break ranks with the prime minister or the other premiers,” Ford said. “I’m responsible for the people of Ontario. I’m going to be transparent on every single item that we have.”

“I have to make sure that people understand the situation that we’re in. The reality of how serious this is.”

$12 million for virtual mental health support

The provincial government also announced $12 in emergency funding for virtual mental health support and an additional $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers.

“This very difficult situation will impact different people in different ways, but I can assure everyone we will be there to support you and help you cope in every way we can,” a statement from Ford reads.

This funding will support services like:

  • BounceBack: A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.

  • Kids Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868.

  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Online CBT, supported by therapists; available in English and French.

  • iCBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care. 

  • Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.

Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) release a statment, following the government’s announcement, that an additional $100 million is needed for COVID-19 emergency mental health response services.

“Today’s acknowledgment is a good first start, but we can’t wait. We must start to ramp up our community-based public programs and services and expand our virtual care now,” a statment from Kim Moran, CEO of the CMHO, reads.

“We look forward to working with the Ontario Government to identify further investments that are needed and further helping Ontario children, youth and families with their mental health issues.”

12:30 p.m.: ‘People watching at home deserve answers,’ Champagne says

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are more than 10,400 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 111 deaths. About 260,000 tests have been conducted across the country, with 3.5 per cent confirmed positive and 95 per cent confirmed negative.

Dr. Tam said that the positive rate is “within a good range” for accurate detection of where the disease is circulating but if we drop below this rate, Canada may be “casting our net too wide.”

She added that people in longterm care homes, hospitals and healthcare workers should be prioritized. Dr. Tam said Canada “must double down” to stop the spread in these settings.

Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, said there are 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities and the federal government is working to bring a “significant” amount of personal protective equipment to these areas.

When asked about Canadian provinces losing out in the bidding process for protective equipment in international markets, like China, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu urged provincial and territorial governments to bulk purchase these items with the federal government, in order to have “Team Canada” behind the bid.

Hajdu added that the allocation of this equipment across Canada is based on population but some is also held back, based on need.

‘In order to do modelling we need accurate data’

Minister Hajdu received questions about when the federal government will share modelling data and analysis. She echoed the prime minister’s thoughts from earlier in the day.

“In order to do modelling we need accurate data,” Hajdu said, adding that the federal government continues to work with provincial and territorial leaders on this.

Dr. Tam said her team is currently looking at how we interpret the information received from provincial and territorial leaders, and experts are figuring out where the curve is heading. She added that you can’t look too far ahead, for example, months ahead.

Minister Hajdu also addressed reports that China hid the extent of the spread of COVID-19.

“There is no indication that the data that came out of China in terms of the infection rate and their death rate was falsified in any way,” she said.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said the government is “very much aware” of reports of disinformation.

“We are very much aware of the stories that are going around the world,” he said. “People watching at home deserve answers, they deserve data, they deserve the truth when it comes to actual data.”

“We are well aware of the fact that we need to work on a multilateral basis to provide the most accurate information.”

Repatriation of Canadians

Minister Champagne said the government has been able to facilitate the return of thousands of Canadians to date.

More than 40 more flights from more than 30 countries will be arriving to Canada. These countries include Peru, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Poland, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, and various African countries.

Canadians on the Zaandem cruise ship will be able to return home once it docks in Florida

11:30 a.m.: ‘Let’s save lives together by staying apart’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a shipment of one million masks have arrived in Hamilton, Ont., in additional to the 10 million that have come to Canada over the past number of days.

Trudeau added that Bauer will be manufacturing face shields for healthcare workers. These supplies will be distributed across Canada “as quickly as possible.”

“It’s going to take distancing and time to flatten the curve,” the prime minister said. “Let’s save lives together by staying apart.”

When asked about masks en route to Quebec being diverted to the U.S., Trudeau said he has heard reports on this issue and “of course, they are concerning.”

“We need to make sure equipment destined to Canada gets to and stays in Canada,” the prime minister said.

Modelling data

Trudeau was asked several times about why the federal government has not released more modelling data and analysis.

“There has been tremendous transparency on the raw data,” Trudeau said, adding that the data analysis depends “directly” on the behaviour of Canadians.

The prime minister said the federal government is working with provincial and territorial leaders to “make sure our various sources of data are aligned.” Trudeau added that “sophisticated modelling work” is going on right now and the federal government will share more information in the coming days and weeks.

“The important thing for us is to provide realistic modelling and that depends on the behaviour of Canadians today,” Trudeau said.

Apr. 1

6:30 p.m.: ‘We seem to be holding our own’

British Columbia has reported 53 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death, bringing the provincial total to 1,066.

There are 142 people in hospital and 67 are in intensive care, while 606 people have recovered.

“Right now, we seem to be holding our own but without a doubt, we will get through this,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “We do have a few more weeks to go.”

5:30 p.m.: Quarantine rules in Toronto

For the next 12 weeks, anyone with COVID-19 and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus must quarantine for 14 days, according to new measures outlined by the City of Toronto.

Anyone who is not symptomatic or has not travelled is “strongly directed” to stay home unless accessing healthcare or medication, shopping for groceries once per week, walking their dog or getting daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres.

“The more we can as Torontonians rally together for the next 12 weeks to comply with these measures, the more we can make it through this challenge and protect ourselves, our loved ones and out entire city,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health said.

Dr. de Villa added that in the last two weeks the city has seen a more than 500 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases.

“This is not a favourable trajectory,” Dr. de Villa said. “I am deeply concerned.”

There are more than 650 confirmed cases in Toronto, with 75 people in hospital and 35 in intensive care.

5:00 p.m.: ‘Life or death’ situation

In Quebec, 519 long-term care homes have reported at least one case of COVID-19. Premier François Legault is urging everyone in the province to stay away from seniors’ homes, calling it a “life or death” situation.

There are more than 4,600 cases in Quebec, an increase of 449 cases in one day. A total of 33 deaths have been reported in the province.

3:30 p.m.: ‘We have some dark days ahead’

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, confirmed that there are more than 2,390 COVID-19 cases in the province, with 426 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours. There have been 37 deaths in Ontario.

Currently, 332 people are in hospital, with 145 in intensive care and 98 on a ventilator.

The province have conducted almost 58,000 tests and there is a backlog of around 3,100.

“We know a surge is coming,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said. “We have some dark days ahead.”

"There is very little separating what we will face here in Ontario from the devastation we've seen in Italy and Spain."

Earlier this morning, Ford announced a $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses in the province manufacture essential supplies like face masks, gloves, swabs and hand sanitizer. Proposals for the fund can be submitted online.

“We’re facing a ruthless, ruthless enemy,” Ford said. “If we’re going to beat this enemy we have to remember that this virus doesn’t travel on its own, it’s people that help spread it.”

The province has also ordered 10,000 ventilators from O-Two Medical Technologies, based in Ontario.

2:00 p.m.: $71 billion wage subsidy for businesses

Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the 75 per cent wage subsidy for businesses is expected to cost the federal government $71 billion, the “largest economic program in Canada's history.”

Morneau said that businesses will have to show a 30 per cent loss in revenues year-over-year from March, April, or May. Each month, these companies will need to reapply. Businesses will also have to show pre-pandemic income for employees.

The finance minister that funds will be available in six weeks.

12:30 p.m.: ‘We have to all act as if we are carrying this virus’

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are more than 9,000 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 105 deaths. More than 250,000 tests have been conducted in Canada with 3.7 per cent testing positive and about 95 per cent have been negative.

People over the age of 60 have accounted for most of the COVID-19 cases and deaths across the country.

Dr. Tam highlighted that for people who want to follow the curve of the virus in Canada, we will not know where the peak is until we’ve passed it.

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said that the federal government has now created a mobile app to provide up-to-date information about the pandemic in Canada, advice for preventing the spread of the virus, guidance for seeking medical help and information to check possible symptoms.

Hajdu said this is a “sneaky” virus and we all need to maintain self-isolation and physical distancing measures.

“We have to all act as if we are carrying this virus,” she said.

Dr. Tam said our healthcare system was not built to deal with a pandemic that is this widespread, and we all need to do our part to stop the transmission of the virus across Canada to avoid strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.

“This health system is not well designed to cope with it if we don’t do something about it now,” the chief public health officer said.

More questions on protective equipment

Federal ministers were, once again, asked about how the government can and will ensure that healthcare workers have enough personal protective equipment.

Minister Hajdu admitted that the country “likely did not have enough” in the federal stockpile to keep up with the demand.

“I think federal governments for decades have been underfunding things like public health preparedness,” Hajdu said. “It is an extremely competitive space right now for personal protective equipment, we are pulling out all the stops.”

Dr. Tam said the priority is to leave medical masks for frontline workers. She said the effectiveness of non-medical masks for people in the public has not been demonstrated but they could help the public have a barrier to preventing droplets from going into the mouth and nose, if properly fitted. But measures like proper hand washing, sneezing into your elbow and physical distancing still, more importantly, need to be followed.

11:30 a.m.: More details on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided additional details on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Starting Apr. 6, anyone who has lost their job but has not applied for EI only needs to apply for the CERB. Canadians who have already applied for EI do not need to submit another request for the CERB. Individuals who receive the wage subsidy from their employer cannot get the new emergency benefit.

Approved applicants will have to confirm that they are still unemployed each month. Canadians can register for the CERB online at and should receive payment in 3-5 days through direct deposit or 10 days by mailed cheque. Individuals who cannot apply online can call the Canadians Revenue Agency for assistance.

The prime minister also confirmed that the government will implement “stiff and severe penalties for trying to take advantage of this system,” including the 75 per cent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Trudeau said businesses should do all they can to pay their employees the remaining 25 per cent.

“The government alone cannot win this fight. We all have to answer the call of duty,” the prime minister said. “Staying home is your way to serve.”

“Canada hasn’t seen this type of civic mobilization since the Second World War.”

Lack of protective equipment

When asked about any shortages of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Trudeau said the government is working hard to ensure there won’t be any shortages across Canada.

“We are currently working very hard with the other provinces to see what options are there to help Quebec or any other regions,” the prime minister said. “We are looking at a global demand for these supplies that is unprecedented.”

“We are expecting to see some shipments coming in very shortly...and we are also working on tooling up our own production so we can have made-in-Canada solutions.”

Trudeau added that this outbreak could last for weeks or months but the government is looking at a number of outcomes and scenarios. He added that the behaviour of all Canadians right now will impact the future of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mar. 31

6:30 p.m.: More than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in British Columbia

B.C. has reported 43 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to more than 1,000, including five more deaths. A total of 128 people are in hospital and 61 are in intensive care. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that 507 people have recovered.

“We are watching very carefully across the province,” Dr. Henry said. “This is our critical time. No one is immune to this virus but everyone can make a difference.”

4:30 p.m.: Toronto cancels all public events until July

The City of Toronto has suspended all city-led events, festivals, conferences and cultural programs, in addition to all city permits for major events, through June 30. This includes Toronto’s Pride weekend.

“This is not an easy decision to make but it is necessary to protect the public and save lives,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said. “Protecting the health and safety of Toronto residents has to be the primary concern right now.”

“Many of these events...involve thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, and it is doubtful that the health environment will be where it needs to be on the originally scheduled spring dates.”

Tory also announced that city services and facilities will continue to be closed until further notice, including city-operated programs. Toronto transit is still operating for essential workers who need it.

4:00 p.m.: COVID-19 cases in Manitoba pass 100

Officials in Manitoba have confirmed more than 100 COVID-19 cases in the province. Three people are in hospital and two are in intensive care. Four people have recovered from the virus in the province and one person has died.

Public health revealed that a staff member at Selkirk Regional Health Centre has tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, said the individual worked in the emergency department from Mar 13 to Mar. 23.

Manitoba has also suspended classroom learning in the province indefinitely.

“We must do everything we can to flatten the COVID curve and protect the health and well-being of all Manitobans,” a statement from Premier Brian Pallister reads.  “The decision to suspend classroom learning in school indefinitely for this school year is the easiest decision to make because it protects our children and their education – it is the right thing to do.” 

Teachers will work with students remotely, including assigning work, conducting assessments and preparing final report cards. Provincial exams will be cancelled for students in Grade 12 but teacher assessments will be implemented.

2:30 p.m.: Ontario schools to remain closed until May 4


The Ontario government said public schools in the province will be closed until at least May. Premier Doug Ford said schools will be closed to teacher until May 1 and students until May 4, if not longer.

"We know from the medical experts that the next two weeks will be critical in the fight against COVID-19 and that's why we're taking further action to keep our kids safe and healthy by having them stay home," a statement from Ford reads.

“I'm prepared to extend these closures even further if we have to,” the premier said on Tuesday.

Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce announce the province’s second phase of the at-home, e-learning tools for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

The breakdown of this phase of the teacher-led Learn at Home program is as follows:

  • Kindergarten-Grade 3: Five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy and math)

  • Grades 4-6: Five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)

  • Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)

  • Grades 9-12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)

Lecce said that laptops and electronic devices will be provided to some students “as needed,” while also taking direction from public health. Phones, video conferencing and email will be used by teachers to connect with students.

“The second phase of Learn at Home creates some predictability for our parents, our students and our educators,” Lecce said. “One way or another, by printed materials or tablet, every child should and will be able to continue learning through the curriculum, supported by their teacher.”


Quebec has reported 732 new cases of COVID-19, including 31 deaths, bringing. the provincial total to more than 4,100 cases. There are 286 patients in hospitals and 86 in intensive care.

More than 5,600 people in the province are waiting to be tested and more than 63,000 tests have received a negative result for COVID-19.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he is concerned about a lack of essential medical supplies, particularly N95 masks. It has been revealed that some healthcare workers in the province have been asked to wash and reuse masks.

The premier said Quebec only has three to seven days' worth of protective equipment, like masks and gloves, for healthcare workers.

12:30 p.m.: 10% of COVID-19 patients in hospital are under 40

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that as of 9:00 a.m., there are more than 7,700 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 89 deaths.

More than 236,000 tests have been conducted, with about 3.5 per cent being positive and about 93 per cent testing negative for the virus.

Dr. Tam said the greatest concern is the introduction of COVID-19 in enclosed settings where vulnerable people reside, primarily longterm care homes, remote and Indigenous communities, and correctional facilities.

She added that young people are not spared, with people under the age of 40 accounting for about 10 per cent of hospitalizations, including an individual in their 30s who died from COVID-19.

When asked about the number of healthcare workers who contracted the virus, Dr. Tam said she is working with the provinces to get this information but there are “a number of healthcare workers” who have tested positive for COVID-19, particularly related to longterm care facilities.

“We all need to be prepared for the’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better,” Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

She added that Canadians need to do “everything we can” to achieve the “least bad” outcome for the country.

Dr. Tam added that Canada’s strategy is to flatten the initial wave and increase our healthcare capacity to manage the outbreak.

“Everything we’re seeing today is people who were infected a couple of weeks ago, or more,” Dr. Tam said.

She added that physical distancing is important to reduce the transmission of the virus, with the hope that any infected person will not transfer the virus to more than one person.

Healthcare workers at the U.S. border.

Freeland was asked about healthcare workers in Windsor, Ont., who work across the U.S. border in Detroit. She said that she has been in contact with Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor, on this issue.

“It’s a measure of how closely intertwined our economies are,” Freeland said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said hospitals have stepped up measures at both sides of the border to carefully check the health of workers. Opportunities have been offered if these individuals would prefer to not go home to their families.

“A lot of very hard, very important work is being done on the ground,” Freeland said. “The mayor is completely on it and I want to thank him for his hard work. It is a situation that we are monitoring closely.”

Protective equipment

Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said the federal government is “aggressively” bulking buying protective equipment, with millions of swabs, gloves, masks and other vital equipment ordered.

The federal government has secured 157 million surgical masks and has ordered more than 60 million N95 masks. Anand added that Canada has secured 1,570 million ventilators, with the plan to purchase at least 4,000 more.

Deliveries of these supplies will begin this week.

11:30 a.m.: $2 billion for protective equipment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $2 billion investment to purchase personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. This includes products like masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators and test kits.

“We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said.

The federal government has also established a contract with Canadian companies Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Bioscience to make medical supplies like ventilator, masks and test kits. Letters of intent have been signed with five additional companies: Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calko Group and Stanfield’s.

Trudeau said the global demand for these products makes establishing a Canadian solution to manufacture these products important.

The prime minister is expecting shipments of this equipment in the coming days and added that Alibaba has provided 500,000 surgical masks and 10,000 testing kits to Canada.

When asked about how these products will be allocated across Canada, Trudeau said the government will follow the recommendation of health experts.

“We rely on experts, on medical make the determination on where things are most needed and we follow the direct advice,” he said.

Working with United States

When asked if the federal government is working with U.S. President Donald Trump for a North American solution to acquire essential equipment, the prime minister said he continues to coordinate with the Americans on a number of issues.

“We understand that countries around the world are taking their own approaches,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to coordinate as much as possible but every step of the way our priority will be ensuring that Canada is able to take care of its own.”

Trudeau added that it is still important for Canadians to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, primarily staying home as much as possible.

“It is extremely important for everyone to do their part,” the prime minister said. “We are looking at a range of models that could lead to different outcomes.”

Mar. 30

6:30 p.m.: Provincial updates

British Columbia

B.C. has reported 86 new cases of COVID-19 in the province since Saturday and two more fatalities. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the first death in the province that was in the community, outside of the hospital.

“We really are in a critical juncture right now in B.C.,” Dr. Henry said. “The next two weeks, we’re in our second incubation period, this is the critical time for us where we’ll see...the continuing trickle or we’re going to see dramatic increase.”

“We are not through the storm yet. We have not yet reached our we need to continue to do all we can.”

A total of 106 people has hospitalized and 48 per cent of cases in B.C. have recovered, including over 70 who were in hospital over the last few weeks.

“We need to maintain those physical distances, particularly in the coming weeks, so that we can break those chains of transmission in our communities, in our families,” Dr. Henry said.


The province of Alberta has confirmed 29 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 690. Five new deaths have also been reported with the victims in their 30s, 50s, and 80s. There have been 94 recoveries to date.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said anyone who is in quarantine because they returned from travel or has been in close contact to a known case needs to remain on their own property at all times. They can only go outside on their own yard, deck or balcony.

New Brunswick

Officials in New Brunswick have confirmed two new COVID-19 cases in the province, brining the total to 68.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell also announced the first community transmitted cases, which cannot be traced to travel.

One person is in hospital with COVID-19 and two have recovered in the province.

Workers or self-employed individuals in New Brunswick can receive a one-time $900 benefit if they made a minimum of $5,000 in the last 12 months and lost their job due to the COVID-19 outbreak, or are self-employed and have lost all revenues. Applications are now available online and each person must apply for the federal benefits as well.

5:00 p.m.: Air Canada lays off more than 15,200 workers

Air Canada will temporarily lay off 15,200 unionized workers and about 1,300 managers, affective Apr. 3.

"The unpredictable extent and duration of the Covid-19 pandemic requires a significant overall response,” a statment from Calin Rovinescu, president and chief executive of Air Canada, reads. “To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while.”

3:30 p.m.: Ontario’s state of emergency will be extended

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the government will be extending its state of emergency declaration, which was set to lift on Mar. 31.

“We’ll be extending it. It goes two weeks at a time,” Ford said.

Ontario officials are recommending that anyone over the age of 70 self-isolate and have essential supplies delivered to them. The provincial government announced that it is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and items to seniors.

When asked what it would take for the government to implement more strict measures requiring Ontarians to stay at home, Ford said he continues to look to health experts for guidance and wants to work “hand-in-hand” with the federal government.

“I have all the confidence in the world in the people of this province,” the premier said, adding that the “vast majority” have people have been staying home as much as possible.

Ford applauded the work of the federal government, calling Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland “an absolute champion.”

“We’re on team Canada. We have team Ontario joining team Canada,” the premier said, adding that working together is how we will “defeat” COVID-19.

There are currently more than 1,700 cases in Ontario and there have been 33 deaths in the province. A total of 431 cases are considered resolved and 4,000 tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours. The backlog of tests in the province is around 5,650.

“We need to stay the course,” Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said. “Overall I think Ontarians are doing well.”

r. Williams was also asked about the effectiveness of the public wearing masks. He indicated that he would prefer that the public maintain a two metre distance, opposed to wearing a mask. People in close contact with a case should wear a mask, as should symptomatic people who are heading out to be tested for COVID-19.

Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health confirmed that everyone should stay home as much as possible. If people cannot safely walk outside, maintaining physical distancing measure, they should stay indoors.

12:30 p.m.: Up to 24,000 troops could be mobilized

Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said that up to 24,000 regular and reserve force members could be mobilized to support COVID-19 measures. The army has readied up to 10 regular force units and there is support for Indigenous, northern and arctic communities in Canada.

Sajjan added that there has not been a formal request to National Defence for assistance.

Status of the pandemic in Canada

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that there are more than 6,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 66 deaths. A total of 220,000 people have been tested and about 95 per cent of tests have come back negative.

Of the positive cases in Canada, about seven per cent require hospitalization, three per cent are in critical care and one per cent are fatal.

When asked if there is concern about a lack of accuracy in these numbers due to people not being tested or delays in test results, Dr. Tam said it is a collective public health goal to increase testing capacity. She added that hospital patient tests are prioritized within the Canadian system.

In terms of test accuracy, Dr. Tam said it is important to test the right person at the right time, conducting a test too early could result in a negative reading.

She was also asked about the effectiveness of masks during the pandemic. Dr. Tam said people need to be “really careful” with masks.

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada said if you are sick, then a mask can prevent droplets from going into a space but putting a mask on someone who is not infected is not beneficial.

Potential negative aspects of wearing masks includes people having a “false sense of confidence.” Individuals may not protect their eyes and are touching their face more frequently.

“They have to be really, really careful and wash their hands,” Dr. Tam said.

11:15 a.m.: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided additional details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

If a business has lost 30% of its revenue, it will be eligible for this subsidy. The number of employees does not impact eligibility, and non-profit organizations and charities are included, as well as businesses of all sizes.

The federal government will cover up to 75 per cent of salary on the first $58,700 and will be backdated to Mar. 15. That totals up to $847 per week.

“We are trusting you to do the right thing,” Trudeau said. “If you have the means to pay the remaining 25 per cent...please do so.”

The prime minister added that “there will be serious consequences” for those who try to take advantage of the system.

Trudeau also said that the government continues to try to “ramp up” testing for COVID-19 across the country and urged Canadians to continue self-isolation and physical distancing measures.

Mar. 28

1:00 p.m.: Doug Ford blasts price-gougers: ‘It’s un-Canadian and it’s wrong’

TORONTO, March 21, 2020 -- Empty shelves are seen at a Walmart pharmacy in Toronto, Canada, March 21, 2020. With shortages of many items like face masks, surgical gowns, protective eye-wear and hand sanitizers, Canada's Ontario Provincial Premier Doug Ford appealed to the province's manufacturing sector to help produce key medical supplies on Saturday. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled harsh measures for price-gouging retailers on Saturday. 

"If you're out there trying to price gouge and take advantage of the situation... hiking the price and selling it back to people, stop. Stop right now. It's un-Canadian and wrong,” the premier said.

The new measures have ‘drastically' increased the penalty for a practice the leader called ‘disgusting.’

If retailers are selling face masks, gloves, cold medicine, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and are altering prices, the premier has a warning: “We’re coming after you, and we will shut you down.”

The new enhanced penalties include summons to court, a year in jail, $100,000 fine if you’re an individual, $500,000 if you’re a director of a corporation and up to $10 million for the corporation as a whole.

Premier Doug Ford also said he is limiting gatherings to no more than five people. Previously, the rule was no more than 50 people. Essential business, child care facilities, and families of more than five people are exempt.

12:00 p.m. ‘We are seeing encouraging signs’

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, offered Canadians encouraging news at the federal minister’s update.

While over 5,153 Canadians are unwell, only seven per cent have been hospitalized, three per cent are critically ill and one per cent of cases are fatal.

Tam confirmed there is some “cautious optimism” coming out of British Columbia, with a slight flattening of the curve and reduced growth of cases. The country will look closely at the province's cases and curve to confirm what method of distancing is most effective in coming weeks.

The optimism coming out of British Columbia doesn’t mean that social distancing should come to an end. 

“This should spur us to keep up with our new habit of social distancing. We need to stay the course,” Tam urged.

The important thing is to stay in your bubble and not burst someone else’s by getting within 2-metres of distance of them.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo reiterated Tam’s message when asked about how long social distancing will continue across the country.

“We can’t predict what will happen in the future but there have been encouraging signs. The number of cases is decreasing in British Columbia, or even in Canada. It's important we stay the course and we not give up.”

11:15 a.m.: Trudeau announces new travel restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on “another different Saturday” during the coronavirus pandemic, announced new rules set in place by Transport Canada for domestic travel across the country.

Starting at noon on Monday, any travellers showing signs of COVID-19 will be denied boarding on planes, trains or other means of travel across the country. 

Trudeau urged the need to continue social isolating, citing positive benefits coming out of B.C., where the curve is showing very early signs of flattening after two weeks of public isolation. 

“We must continue to keep a safe distance from one another, and make responsible decisions,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister also reiterated the mandatory 14-day isolation. The maximum fines and penalties for violating the rule could be up to $750,000 and jail time.

11:00 a.m.: Canadian dies in Brazil of COVID-19

A Canadian citizen, who was on a cruise, has died from COVID-19 complications in Brazil, according to Global Affairs Canada.

No further information about the individual have been provided due to privacy reasons.

Mar. 27

6:00 p.m.: Provincial updates on COVID-19


Alberta has confirmed 56 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, totalling more than 540 cases to date. Up to 42 cases are suspected to be community transmitted cases from an unknown source and 33 Albertans have recovered.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said over the last several days about 1,000 tests have been done daily, following changes to the province’s testing protocols on Monday. Effective Friday, testing for healthcare workers is starting and the province expects the lab will be testing at least 2,000 a day people moving forward.

Now, only gatherings of only 15 people are less are allowed in the province, Premier Jason Kenney announced on Friday. Non-essential businesses will also be closing, as well as non-critical and non-emergency health services.

“We determined that several new measures are necessary to further strengthen protection for Albertans,” Kenney said. “The actions we are taking are tough but necessary to protect public health.”


Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, and Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams provided an update on the status of COVID-19 in the province.

There are more than 990 cases in Ontario, an increase of 135 cases in one day. About 16 per cent of known cases are considered community spread but about 40 per cent of cases are unknown. Dr. Yaffe said this likely because people cannot remember exactly where they’ve been and who they’ve been with in the 14 days before becoming symptomatic.

The province is still working to increase testing capacity to 5,000 people a day. Currently, approximately 3,500 individuals can be tested on a daily basis.


The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec has topped 2,000, with 18 deaths in the province. A total of 392 cases were reported in 24 hours. There are 141 people in hospital and 50 are in intensive care.

Quebec Premier François Legault said the province’s early March break period, compared to the rest of Canada, has impacted the significant jump in cases, with many people from the province leaving just before advisories to not travel were implemented.


B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is “cautiously optimistic” about the transmission of COVID-19 after sharing modelling data.

“We are, maybe, starting to bend a little bit,” Dr. Henry said about the province’s transmission forecast, based on cumulative COVID-19 cases. “I’m trying not to overcall it but I do believe we’ve seen a flattening, a falling off of that curve.”

The data shows that B.C.’s transmission rate has dropped from 24 per cent to 12 per cent, which Dr. Henry indicates is associated with physical distancing measures and travel restrictions.

She added that the province is at approximately 130 cases per million population. Dr. Henry indicated that if the province had kept on the same trajectory from Mar. 14, B.C. would have expected to have about 215 cases per million at this point.

“What we need though, is for everybody to continue to pay attention to these measures so that we can continue to prevent the transmission in our communities, continue to separate to stop those chains of transmission,” Dr. Henry said.

2:00 p.m.: Alert from Ontario

At 2:00 p.m. the Ontario government sent an emergency alert to mobile phones, televisions and radio telling travellers to the province that they must self-isolate for 14 days.

COVID-19 Ontario alert (Yahoo Canada)

“DO NOT visit stores, family or friends. Everyone should stay home to stop the spread,” the alert reads, with a link to the provincial government’s COVID-19 web page.

Many people took. to social media to applaud the move from the government.

1:00 p.m.: ‘Do not underestimate the severity of this disease’

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo addressed questions about what timeframe the government is working with to combat COVID-19.

“Do not underestimate the severity of this disease,” Dr. Njoo said. “We’re in it for the long haul. It’s not going to be days and weeks, it’s going to be months.”

He added that health experts are also looking at the possibility of a “second wave” of the virus once some of these strict COVID-19 measures start to be lifted. Dr. Njoo continued to stress that Canadians must keep social distancing and self-isolating.

“Whatever your situation is, stay in your bubble...and don’t burst someone else’s bubble,” Dr. Njoo said, using the “bubble” term coined in New Zealand that each individual should maintain a personal two-metre space.

Freeland added that, “it is certainly going to get worse before it’s going to get better.”

“All of us at the federal level, provincially, in cities, in hospital across the country, are preparing incredibly energetically for that inevitability,” she said. “There is nothing I would love more than to say to you and Canadians, on this specific date it will be all over.”

“Our best experts cannot tell us, with certainty, precisely when this will end. They can tell us the things we can do to get through it with the best health outcomes for Canadians.”

Dr. Njoo also stressed that Canadians should leave personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, for frontline workers to ensure that we can meet the demands. He added that this PPE is not necessary for people who are going to the grocery store.

There are more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases in Canada and 39 deaths, approximately a one per cent fatality rate, and six per cent of cases have required hospitalization. More than 163,000 tests have been conducted.

Canada’s relationship with the U.S.

Freeland said that Canada is continuing discussions with the U.S. about their consideration to place military troops at the border.

“Canada has continued to express clearly and forcefully its view that there is no logical reason to militarize our border with the United States, and we have been very clear that such an action would damage our relationship,” she said.

When asked about American authorities deporting refugees who have been mandated to go back to U.S. at irregular border crossings, the deputy prime minister said Canada is “urgently” discussing this situation.

“That is an issue that we are currently discussing urgently with our American partners,” Freeland said. “It’s very important to Canada to abide by our international commitments. We’re clearly alive to those concerns.”

Last week, the Canadian government announced that all asylum seekers at irregular crossings must return to the U.S. as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

11:15 a.m.: Prime minister announces 75 per cent wage subsidy

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would cover 10 per cent of wages for small and medium sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, he announced that amount has increased to payroll support of 75 per cent for qualifying businesses, backdated to Mar. 15.

“People will continue to be paid,” Trudeau said. “Even if their employer had to...stop operation.”

“We have to get through these coming months of restricted economic activity where people stay at much as possible.”

The prime minister added that he hopes employers will consider keeping their staff during this time.

“We know that allowing people to continue that a really important thing,” Trudeau said. “Not just for people’s confidence but for the ability for all of us to bounce back.”

The government has established the Canada emergency business account. Banks will soon offer $40,000 in interest-free loans to businesses, which will be guaranteed by the government. Businesses can also delay GST/HST payments until June.

This announcement comes after the Bank of Canada slashed its interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent.

How long will these COVID-19 measures last?

The prime minister was asked if he has any sense of a timeline of when these COVID-19 measures, particularly self-isolation, will be in place for.

“There are obviously many different projections,” Trudeau said. “But those projections all hinge on choices that Canadians are making today.”

He added that whether this is the reality of Canadians for weeks or months will become more clear as time progresses and actions by the people in the country are taken.

In terms of his personal self-isolation, the prime minister said he will continue stay home for the time being.

“The doctors continue to tell us to stay in self isolation,” he said. “We’re asking Canadians to stay self isolated as much as possible...and I am happy to continue to do this.”

Military troops at the Canada-U.S. border

Trudeau was also asked about the possibility of the U.S. placing military troops at the border. The prime minister reiterated that he hopes this is not he decision they make as both countries benefit “immensely” from the demilitarized border.

Trudeau said it “would be a mistake to position troops near the Canadian border and we certainly hope they will not go through with that.”

The prime minister says he continue to engage closely with American counterparts.

For a full archive of the first month of the pandemic, please check our archive of events.