The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories when available.
12:15 p.m According to its latest report released Thursday morning, Ontario is reporting 168 people in the ICU due to COVID-19 and 1,207 in the hospital who tested positive for COVID-19 overall.
Of those hospitalized, 39.3 percent were admitted for COVID-19 and 60.8 percent for other reasons but have since tested positive. As for the ICU numbers, 62.3 percent were admitted because of COVID-19 and 37.7 percent for other reasons, but have since tested positive.
The numbers represent a 3.0 percent increase in the COVID-19 number in the ICU and a 3.2 percent decrease in overall hospital admissions. 24 percent of the province’s 2,343 adult ICU beds remain available for new patients.
Read the full story of Dorcas Marfo from The Star
11:30 a.m Nova Scotia is lifting its COVID-19 mask mandate in the province’s public schools on Tuesday.
Education Secretary Becky Druhan said in a press release today that masks remain recommended and support is given to students and staff who choose to wear them.
However, Druhan says that with warmer weather and improving COVID-19 data, now is the time to make masks optional in schools.
Minister says change means all provinces in Canada have lifted their school mask mandates.
Nova Scotia lifted mask requirements for most public places on March 21, but health order was maintained in schools, health facilities, and long-term care and other community facilities.
9:20 a.m Ashley Biden, the daughter of Presidents Joe Biden and Jill Biden, has COVID-19 and is no longer accompanying her mother on a tour of Latin America, the White House said Wednesday.
She is not considered a close liaison with any of her parents, said Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesman. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it had been “several days” since the president and first lady last saw their daughter.
Ashley Biden’s positive test result was announced just before Jill Biden’s flight on Wednesday to Ecuador, the first stop of her six-day Latin America trip. The first lady also planned to visit Panama and Costa Rica before returning to Washington next week.
It’s the second time the coronavirus has caused 40-year-old Ashley Biden to refrain from traveling abroad with her mother.
In early May, she was nudged away from the First Lady’s trip to Eastern Europe to visit Ukrainian refugees after learning she had been a close contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. Ashley Biden tested negative after that exposure, LaRosa said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “close contact” with an infected person as a period of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The CDC says people with “close contacts” do not need to be quarantined if they are up to date on their vaccines, but should wear well-fitting masks around other people for 10 days after contact.
8:30 am Years of government reluctance to fund health care has contributed to the loss of more than 7,300 registered nurse jobs in Ontario in 10 years, according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
The data shows that 75 percent of those RN jobs — more than 5,500 — were cut from 2013 to 2016 as the former Liberal provincial government, led by Kathleen Wynne, sought to curb healthcare spending to balance the budget.
“We tried to balance the needs of the health care system with the fiscal needs of the province,” Wynne said in a recent interview with the Star.
“If I knew what I know about COVID now, and if I could have seen this coming or understood that, I might have made different choices,” Wynne said. “But I never stopped and our government never stopped increasing funding for healthcare.”
Read the full story of the star’s Patty Winsa
8:05 a.m Cinemas have always offered a common outlet in troubled times, whether before the murky Depression of the 1930s or the uncertainty of war in the 1940s. Toronto’s oldest surviving theatre, The Revue, literally gave out glasses of milk with every movie ticket so that impoverished children could get something to eat during World War II.
The last few years, however, have been a different story. Other platforms meet the entertainment needs of more viewers.
In the past, TV and home video rentals certainly robbed feature films of their money. But streaming services like Netflix have changed the film landscape so drastically that studios are now consistently releasing online premieres and bringing their films to viewers.
Read the full story of Ryan Uytdewillen’s Special to the Star
7:40 a.m NDP leader Andrea Horwath canceled a planned campaign move in the North Thursday morning after she was about to board a chartered flight to Sault Ste. tested positive for COVID-19. Marie and then Thunder Bay.
She felt no symptoms and planned to continue at least some of her scheduled events remotely through Thursday using Zoom.
During the debate on Monday in the television studio, she was in a confined space with Green Party leader Mike Schreiner. Schreiner tested positive on Wednesday.
While some other campaign stops in the North may be postponed, Horwath is expected to go into quarantine for five days from Thursday. The NDP campaign had to sink a planned trip by plane to Sandy Lake First Nation.
Read the full story from the Star’s Queen’s Park office
Thursday 5:52 am: During a recent late-night visit to a pharmacy, a double-masked Kim Jong Un lamented the slow delivery of medicines. Separately, the North Korean leader’s lieutenants have quarantined hundreds of thousands of suspected COVID-19 patients and urged those with mild symptoms to drink willow leaf or honeysuckle tea.
Despite what Northern propaganda calls an all-out effort, fear is palpable among citizens, according to defectors in South Korea with contacts in the North, and some outside observers fear the outbreak could get much worse, with much impoverishment unvaccinated population left without adequate hospital care and struggling to afford even basic medicines.
“North Koreans know that so many people around the world have died from COVID-19, so they are afraid that some of them might die too,” said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector, citing her phone calls with contacts at the North Korean city of Hyesan. She said people who can afford it buy traditional medicine to deal with their fears.
Since North Korea admitted its so-called first domestic COVID-19 outbreak a week ago, it has been struggling to manage a deepening health crisis that has heightened public concerns over a virus it previously claimed it was keeping at bay to have.
Wednesday 9 a.m Ontario Green Party leader says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Mike Schreiner says he tested positive in a rapid test on Wednesday evening after close contact with an employee.
Schreiner says in a statement that he “feels good” and is fully vaccinated.
He says he will be campaigning from home for “a couple of days” while following public health advice.
Current Ontario health regulations require people to isolate themselves for five days after they first develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, whichever comes first.
Schreiner’s diagnosis comes midway through the provincial campaign and days after his well-reviewed appearance in a televised debate drew party leaders’ attention to him and his party.
Read Wednesday’s coronavirus news.
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