Scheer says opposition must take different approach in coronavirus fight

The unprecedented nature of the economic and health crisis created by COVID-19 means the Conservatives are finessing their approach to their role as the Official Opposition, says leader Andrew Scheer.

Shelved — for now — is reflexive opposition to the Liberals because of the parties’ differing philosophies on the role of government, Scheer said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“There really isn’t much philosophical difference when it comes to fighting a virus or keeping Canadians healthy and safe,” he said.

What that means in practical terms as a minority Parliament gets set to deal with an $82-billion emergency aid package the Liberal government has promised is reframing how the party will approach its work, he said.

“It’s less of a debate of the ‘what’ and more accountability on the ‘how,’ ” he said.

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Trudeau to offer update on Canada’s COVID-19 response as threat escalates

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be updating Canadians again Sunday on the latest measures being taken to try to protect the country against the steadily escalating COVID-19 threat.

Trudeau has been holding daily late morning briefings outside his Ottawa residence where he remains in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

As the number of Canadians infected with COVID-19 climbed to 1,331 yesterday, and the death toll from the illness rose to 19, further actions were being taken to try to slow the spread of the virus and prevent health-care facilities from being overwhelmed.

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Iran's death toll from the coronavirus reaches 1,685: official

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s death toll has reached 1,685 with 129 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry’s spokesman told state TV on Sunday, adding that the total number of infected people in Iran had reached 21,638.

“There were 1,028 new confirmed infected cases in the past 24 hours … and 7,913 people have recovered,” said Kianush Jahanpur.

Iran is the Middle Eastern country most affected by the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus test that gives results in 45 minutes approved in breakthrough move

A coronavirus test that provides results in just 45 minutes has been given the go-ahead.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the rapid diagnostic test to be used in American hospitals and emergency rooms.

It was developed by Cepheid, a California-based molecular diagnostics company.

According to reports it will be shipped to hospitals next week.

Currently, patients are being forced to wait up to weeks to get their results back resulting in an agonising wait.

But the fight against the outbreak could be handed a huge boost if results are given much sooner.

It will need approval by UK authorities if it is to be implemented in Britain.

This week a test that revealed COVID-19 without symptoms was unveiled by Number 10.

The government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said work on the test is "progressing very fast".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "The great thing about having a test to see whether you've had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again.

"So for an economic point of view, from a social point of view, it really could be a game-changer.

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"You can really see the potential of that advance, which, as I say, is coming down the track."

Coronavirus has now infected more than 300,000 people worldwide with more than 13,000 deaths.

Yesterday, the UK death toll reached 233 with more than 5,000 cases.

  • Coronavirus is 'spreading through petrol pumps' as motorists told to wear gloves

On Friday, Johnson dramatically ordered the closure of pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres and gyms.

He said: "Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed.

"The Italians have a superb health-care system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand."

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Coronavirus: Air Canada flight carrying Canadians from Morocco lands in Montreal

A special Air Canada flight has landed in Montreal, bringing 444 Canadians home from Morocco as borders shut down around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline announced on Friday that it would fly an aircraft with 450 seats out of Casablanca to Montreal.

Global Affairs Canada is expected to coordinate local arrangements for the Canadians to return home, where they will then have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Any Canadians on the flight also underwent a health screening prior to boarding.

Morocco suspended all international flights out of the country recently. The country has seen 74 confirmed cases and three deaths as of March 21, according to the World Health Organization.

On Friday, Canada’s foreign affairs minister had urged Canadians in Morocco to book a seat on the flight, which had to be paid for, unlike the repatriation flights for Canadians who were stuck on cruise ships overseas.

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Britain's NHS could be overwhelmed like Italy, PM Johnson warns on coronavirus

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) could be “overwhelmed” by the coronavirus like the Italian health system in just two weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned.

The death toll in Italy reached almost 5,000 on Saturday, while in the UK it hit 233.

In comments carried in the Sunday Telegraph and other Sunday newspapers, Johnson again urged Britons to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

“Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed,” he said.

“The Italians have a superb health-care system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand,” Johnson noted.

He advised people to keep away from elderly parents on Mothering Sunday (March 22).

“The single best present that we can give … is to spare them the risk of catching a very dangerous disease,” he said.

Earlier, Britain urged 1.5 million people identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus to not leave their homes to protect themselves.

On Friday, Johnson effectively closed down the United Kingdom, ordering pubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors to fight the virus.

Stores are also starting to shut.

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Coronavirus is ‘spreading through petrol pumps’ as motorists told to wear gloves

The coronavirus could be spreading through petrol pumps, according to reported claims by a senior nurse.

It is claimed the medic, understood to be from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, urged motorists to start wearing gloves.

It comes as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world since it broke out in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year.

A reporter from the Daily Mail tweeted: "A senior nurse at the Queen Elizabeth believes the virus is spreading rapidly through people using petrol pumps.

"She asks that if you need to fill your car up use gloves or a paper towel and then bin them. Please pass this on."

The NHS has not specifically warned people about using petrol pumps, and it is not yet known how long the disease would last on such a surface.

Health and Safety Executive has also denied any guidelines have been issued on petrol pumps.

But it comes as the NHS continues to urge the public to self-isolate as the virus continues to spread, with Brits told to work from home if they can.

Today, the death toll in the UK reached 233 while the number of cases has surpassed 5,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who dramatically ordered restaurants and pubs to shut this week, warned the NHS could become "overwhelmed".

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He said: "Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed.

"The Italians have a superb health-care system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand.

He also urged people to avoid seeing their mums on Mother's Day on Sunday.

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Johnson continued: "The single best present that we can give … is to spare them the risk of catching a very dangerous disease."

Earlier this week he also ordered theatres, cinemas and gyms to shut.

Daily Star Online has approached the NHS for comment on claims the virus could be spreading through petrol pumps.

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Virus hit UK companies told to halt financial statements

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s listed companies should not publish preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks to better assess how the coronavirus epidemic is affecting their business, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Saturday.

“The FCA will be writing tonight to companies it is aware were intending to publish preliminary financial statements in the next few days to delay their planned publications,” the watchdog said in a statement.

“The FCA strongly requests all listed companies observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks.”

The government has told shops, restaurants and other public places to shut, and is advising people to avoid all non-essential travel.

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Tunisia allocates $850 million to combat effects of coronavirus

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia is allocating 2.5 billion dinars ($850 million) to combat the economic and social effects of the coronavirus health crisis, Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Saturday.

Among new measures, the government will delay tax debts, postpone taxes on small- and medium-sized businesses, delay repayment of low-income employee loans and provide financial assistance to poor families.

Tunisia has confirmed 60 cases of the disease, which is expected to hit its tourism sector, which accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product.

Tunisia’s president on Friday ordered a general lockdown, limiting citizens’ free movement in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“All of Tunisia is united in this dangerous war. The war has a cost and the exceptional decisions that we announced have a cost, but we have no choice”, Fakhfakh said in speech.

The government will provide 450 million dinars in financial aid to poor families and Tunisians who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.

It allocated 1.2 billion in loans and aid to help companies affected by the crisis.

Tunisia now expects an economic recession, prompting the central bank on Tuesday to cut its key interest rate by 100 basis points.

Fakhfakh has said the government reduced its growth forecast this year to 1% from 2.7%.

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Coronavirus: Burlington mayor declares state of emergency over COVID-19

The mayor of Burlington, Ont., has declared a state of emergency in the city due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The next few days are critical in our ongoing efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and I encourage our residents to take every precaution in protecting yourselves,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

Meed Ward is asking all local malls and non-essential businesses to close for the time being.

Meed Ward pointed to a number of factors in making the declaration in conjunction with council, senior staff, the city’s emergency control group and senior staff at Joseph Brant Hospital.

“While I thank our many residents who are heeding expert medical advice, we have noticed there is still some complacency in our community around the need to self-isolate, to engage in social distancing and to only go outside for essentials such as food and medical needs or appointments,” said Meed Ward.

The declaration also referenced the death of a 51-year-old Milton man earlier this week from COVID-19 as health officials continue to investigate how he contracted novel coronavirus.

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