COVID-19 spreads in homeless shelter, WHO seeks funds; In The News for April 25

COVID-19 spreads in homeless shelter, WHO seeks funds; In The News for April 25

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 25 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

TORONTO — A COVID-19 outbreak has surged among Toronto’s homeless in the last 10 days with at least 135 cases, the majority of which come from one shelter that houses refugees.

Ten days ago, there were 30 cases of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless.

But now there are 88 residents at the Willowdale Welcome Centre alone who have tested positive for the disease, according to recently released data from Toronto Public Health.

Officials say the majority of the cases at the shelter are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms of the disease.

Nimeh Al-Banna, who came to Canada from Jordan via Iraq, lives at the shelter and found out two days ago she tested positive for the disease.

“I have no symptoms. I am O.K.,” she told The Canadian Press from her room at the shelter. “I am not scared and I am not worried.”

However, Macdonald Scott, her immigration lawyer, is worried.

In other Canadian news …

CALGARY — An organization that works with immigrants says the temporary closure of a large slaughterhouse in southern Alberta has left many among its largely Filipino workforce fearful for the future.

Cargill shut down its plant just north of High River, Alta., earlier this week after an outbreak of COVID-19 and the death of one employee. The decision put 2,000 employees out of work.

Marichu Antonio from Action Dignity said 70 per cent of the workers at Cargill are Filipino. There are also Mexicans, Chinese and Vietnamese working at the plant.

Her organization, previously known as the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary, assists new Canadians obtain services. She said it has received hundreds of calls from Cargill workers.

Antonio, who is originally from the Philippines, said people are worried about what happens after the plant reopens.

“The possibility of death is so real right now. They know the long-term implications to their families if something happens to them as the main breadwinners, so they’re very worried They’re afraid,” she said.

Also this …

OTTAWA — The European Union is planning a major pledging conference early next month to help fill the World Health Organization’s funding gaps, and it expects Canada to play a key role.

Brice de Schietere, the EU’s acting ambassador to Canada, says the event was being planned before U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week he would pause WHO funding because of concerns that it mismanaged the early outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

De Schietere told The Canadian Press that no one wants to politicize the May 4 event but the effort to find a vaccine and fund the research needed to end the global pandemic means raising money to help the UN agency is more important than ever.

De Schietere, the charge d’affaires at the EU delegation’s Ottawa office, said the Canada-EU trade deal will play a key role in helping the post-pandemic economic recovery, as well as keeping essential medical supply chains open.

And he said Canada and the EU are co-operating closely to control the spread of misinformation about the pandemic, which he said has resulted in more than 120 fake news stories that are aimed at undermining the European response to the crisis.

De Schietere steered clear of mentioning Trump directly, but he emphasized that Canada is the EU’s closest partner in the world right now, and that their transatlantic alliance is focused on bolstering multilateral trade, health and political organizations to battle the pandemic.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s raising of unproven, even far-fetched ideas for fighting COVID-19 — including his latest musing about injecting disinfectants into people — triggered an outcry from health officials everywhere. It also highlighted his unconventional approach to the special responsibility that comes with speaking from the presidential pulpit.

Trump readily admits he’s not a doctor. Yet with the reported U.S. death toll from the virus topping 50,000, he continues to use the White House podium to promote untested drugs and float his own ideas for treatment as he tries to project optimism.

“He’s like the family member around the dinner table that doesn’t have a grasp of what reality is and is willing to speak with confidence despite it,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. He said Trump likes to provocatively push the boundaries because he thinks that appeals to his political supporters.

“But in this case it’s the president of the United States and it’s dangerous,” Zelizer said.

Trump’s offhand comment Thursday wondering if disinfectants could be injected or ingested to fight COVID-10 got intense blowback from doctors and other health officials on Friday. It also prompted blunt warnings from the makers of popular commercial products. (The Associated Press)

COVID-19 around the world …

SAVANNAH, Ga. — The U.S. states of Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began loosening lockdown orders on their pandemic-wounded businesses, even as the confirmed U.S. death toll from the coronavirus soared past 50,000 and despite warnings from health experts that such steps may be coming too early.

The news came as the outbreak appeared to continue to subside in much of Asia. In China, where the virus was first detected late last year, authorities on Saturday reported no new deaths for the 10th straight day, along with just 12 new cases, 11 of them brought from overseas and one local transmission in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, according to the National Health Commission.

Just 838 people remain hospitalized in China with COVID-19 while another 1,000 are undergoing isolation and monitoring for being either suspected cases or having tested positive for the virus while showing no symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,632 deaths among 82,816 cases.

South Korea reported 10 fresh cases, the eighth day in a row its daily jump came below 20. There were no new deaths for the second straight day.

India announced the easing of a stringent lockdown for 1.3 billion people with the reopening of neighbourhood and standalone shops. India has reported more than 18,600 cases and 775 deaths. Last week, it allowed resumption of manufacturing and farming activities in rural areas as millions of daily wage earners were left without work.

In France, the government is leaving families to decide whether to keep children at home or send them back to class when the nationwide lockdown, in place since March 17, starts to be lifted on May 11. (The Associated Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2020.

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