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Feds must do more to help LTC homes in next wave of COVID-19, OLTCA says; South Korea continues resurgence of coronavirus

Feds must do more to help LTC homes in next wave of COVID-19, OLTCA says; South Korea continues resurgence of coronavirus
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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

5:18 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will continue Wednesday to make the case for a co-ordinated global response to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world s poorest countries.

He ll be among the leaders and heads of state to deliver remarks during a virtual summit of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

Among other things, he is expected to promise that Canada will partner with developing countries, which stand to be the hardest hit by the pandemic, and help to rally the world behind measures like debt relief to help them survive the crisis.

That is similar to the message Trudeau delivered last week while co-hosting a major United Nations summit, alongside UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Without a global co-ordinated recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

While no country has escaped the economic ravages of the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, developing countries, already in debt distress before the pandemic, cannot afford the kinds of emergency benefits and economic stimulus measures undertaken in wealthy, industrialized countries like Canada.

Prior to the UN summit, Trudeau argued that ensuring poorer countries survive the crisis is not just the right thing to do, it s in Canada s own self-interest.

"Canadian jobs and businesses depend on stable and productive economies in other countries, so it matters to us how everyone weathers this storm,” he said last week.

5:17 a.m. The Department of National Defence is being accused of trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to withhold information from Parliament and Canadians.

There has been widespread concern over various federal departments failing to respond to access-to-information requests but the Opposition Conservatives say the problem is much worse at the Defence Department.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan points to the department s failure to respond to a large number of questions on the order paper in recent months, which it blamed on the pandemic.

Bezan says that stands in contrast to other departments having continued to answer order paper questions, a key way MPs get details about the inner workings of federal departments.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux also reported last week that the Defence Department blamed COVID-19 for its failure to respond to his request for an update on the government s plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on new military gear in the coming years.

The Defence Department says it is committed to transparency and has responded to a dozen order paper questions since April, but the pandemic has limited access to certain records and databases and forced it to allocate key staff to other tasks.

5:13 a.m. The federal government must do more to help provinces prepare long-term care homes for the next wave of COVID-19, the Ontario Long Term Care Association says.

Association CEO Donna Duncan is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to quickly negotiate an agreement with provincial governments to deliver funds to help long-term care systems ramp up preparations as soon as possible.

"We need to act fast," she said, noting many experts think the second-wave of novel coronavirus infections will hit no later than September.

She is looking for an agreement along the lines of the 2017 deals signed between Ottawa and provincial governments to flow money for mental health and home care. Those agreements — more than $11 billion over a decade — required provinces to produce plans for how the funds would be allocated.

Duncan said she doesn t have a specific national dollar figure in mind but is looking for everything from money to hire more workers, to prioritizing the delivery of personal protective equipment and rapid on-site COVID-19 testing, as well as infrastructure funds that will help make some of the older, smaller homes better able to prevent infection and isolate patients when they become ill.

5 a.m. South Korea on Wednesday reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, continuing a weekslong resurgence of the virus as the government defended its decision to reopen schools despite health risks.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on brought national totals to 11,590 cases and 273 deaths. All but one of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and a massive e-commerce warehouse.

Mayors and governors in the greater capital area have shut thousands of nightclubs, hostess bars, karaoke rooms, churches and wedding halls to slow the spread of the virus.

Some entertainment venues in Seoul, Incheon and Daejeon began collecting the personal details of their customers through smartphone QR codes this week so they could be located easily when needed, a requirement that will be expanded nationwide on June 10.

Despite the spike in transmissions, the government has been pushing ahead with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high-school seniors on May 20.

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Tuesday 8 p.m. About one third of students returned to classrooms in British Columbia Monday and Education Minister Rob Fleming said he expects those numbers to rise.

In countries like New Zealand and Denmark, more families sent their kids back to classrooms after hearing it was safe. The B.C. government is anticipating a similar pattern, he said during a news conference at a Victoria-area middle school on Tuesday.

Schools opened Monday on a part-time and optional basis for students in kindergarten through Grade 12, while online learning also continues for the final four weeks of the year.

The partial return will allow staff to prepare for a fresh term in the fall, and they will spend summer fine tuning how it will work, Fleming said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her briefing Tuesday that officials can’t predict what will happen between now and September, so they also can’t say what the next school year will look like.

4:30 p.m. A New Brunswick doctor blamed by many, including the premier, for spreading COVID-19 in a growing cluster of new cases told Radio-Canada on Tuesday he’s not sure how he picked up the virus.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola said he recently travelled from Campbellton, N.B., to Quebec to pick up his 4-year-old daughter because the girl’s mother had to attend a funeral in Africa.

Ngola admitted that upon his return from the overnight trip, he did not self-isolate for 14 days, but added he does not know if he caught the coronavirus on his travels or from a patient.

“Perhaps it was an error in judgment, but I did not go to Quebec to go to take the virus and come to give it to my patients,” Ngola told morning show La Matinale.

There are 13 active COVID-19 cases in the province that had just weeks ago seen all of its coronavirus cases recovered.

All of New Brunswick’s active cases are in the health region known as Zone 5, and all have been linked to a cluster in the Campbellton area.

Officials, including Premier Blaine Higgs, have said the cluster began when a health-care worker travelled to Quebec and returned to work at Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating.

3 p.m. The federal government has inked a contract for 37 million syringes — roughly enough for the entire Canadian population — as it prepares for “mass vaccinations” against COVID-19.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that the contract was signed with the Canadian branch of Becton Dickinson, a global medical tech giant.
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