Police are investigating the owners of a privately run Montreal-area nursing home after news that 31 patients died at the facility since mid-March.
At least five of the deceased residents had contracted COVID-19, Quebec Premier François Legault revealed on Saturday.
He promised a thorough public investigation into Résidence Herron in Dorval, where nurses spoke out on Saturday about conditions inside the home.
They said residents were left in unsanitary conditions, many unfed and without water for more than 24 hours, because staff were failing to show up.
“It’s going to be a long-term investigation” with a review of camera footage, said Montreal police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.
WATCH | Doctor says Quebec care home deaths are ‘sad shame:
The news came at a time when care homes have been in the spotlight because of troubling reports in both Quebec and Ontario about elderly residents contracting COVID-19 in long-term care homes.
These outbreaks are a “sad shame, occurring in homes with the “most vulnerable individuals in our society” who need expert care, said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health and University Health Network in Toronto.
COVID-19 can get into long-term care homes and spread partly because of staff who can’t always get a full-time position and have to work at more than one facility, he told CBC News on Sunday.
It’s asking a lot of these workers to be at risk for COVID-19 themselves, he said.
“When you’re working for minimum wage, when you don’t have sick benefits, to a certain extent you can appreciate why some workers didn’t want to put themselves in the line of fire.”
Families say they can’t get information
Moira Davis, who lives in northern Saskatchewan, says her father is among the 31 people who died at the home in Dorval, either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Herron emailed her on March 27 to report its first confirmed COVID-19 case and to inform her that residents were now to be quarantined in their rooms. But from that point on, she says she was not able to get any more information, and the guilt she feels now is “beyond overwhelming.”
“I had no info, no nothing on what was going on,” said Barbara Schneider, whose mother died at Herron on Friday after contracting the novel coronavirus. She said she visited her mother regularly until the residence was closed to visitors. After that, she says no receptionists answered the phone, emails did not receive replies and voicemail inboxes were always full.
WATCH | ‘I had no info, nothing,’ daughter says of her mother’s care:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an emotional speech in the House of Commons on Saturday, noted that the crisis is most devastating for the elderly. He said the last members of the “greatest generation” who lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War are now most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
Parliament passed the federal government’s wage subsidy legislation Saturday night after an emergency sitting. The bill is aimed at providing financial support for companies reporting big losses in revenue caused by the pandemic. Businesses and charities that qualify will be given money to pay employees up to 75 per cent of their salary.
As of late Sunday morning, more than 23,700 Canadians had tested positive for COVID-19. The total death count is now over 700.
With outbreaks in dozens of facilities, Ontario’s long-term care homes are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic deaths, which account for close to half the coronavirus-related fatalities in the province.
WATCH | Woman who pulled daughter from Markham home for adults with disabilities worried daughter may have COVID-19:
Workers at a residence for people with disabilities in Markham, Ont., walked out on Thursday when they were told of an outbreak there.
Laura Meffen said she removed her daughter Emily Kerr from the care home after learning last Tuesday of a “possible outbreak,” which was later confirmed. Participation House saw many of its employees abandoned their posts after they were informed about the outbreak.
Public Services and Procurement Canada said on Sunday that it has received a shipment containing millions of N95 respirators to be distributed to health-care workers.
Confirmed infections have reached about 1.7 million worldwide, including more than 100,000 deaths, while the number of cases surpassed half a million in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University count.
Health officials have projected that 11,000 Canadians would die over the course of the pandemic if 2.5 per cent of the population was infected, a number that might be as high as 22,000 if the infection rate hit five per cent of the population. All the projections are “highly sensitive” to behaviours, said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, as health officials outlined models with strict measures as well as offering a glimpse into what might have happened without controls.
Public health officials have urged people to stay home, avoid large gatherings and keep up physical distancing, handwashing and other measures.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been posting updated information about the virus, says that COVID-19 is a “serious health threat.” The agency says that risk varies between communities but notes that the overall risk to Canadians is “considered high.”
Trudeau praises Canadians for staying home at Easter
The spread of the novel coronavirus, first reported in China in late 2019, continues as Christians around the globe mark Easter Sunday, with church leaders offering services online amid restrictions on gathering in pews.
Prime Minister Trudeau and other leaders across the country are taking a rare day off from updating the nation on the pandemic as Canadians celebrate Easter.
In a written message marking the day, which comes nearly one month after the country started locking down to slow the spread of COVID-19, Trudeau commemorated the personal sacrifice and compassion that many Canadians are exhibiting during the pandemic.
This weekend is a chance for all of us to reflect on what matters, and to think about where we are. I know this hasn’t been easy, but I also know that we’ll get through this together. And this long weekend, that’s my message to you. Watch my daily update below. <a href=”https://t.co/41vlutRJzi”>pic.twitter.com/41vlutRJzi</a>
“We are seeing great displays of personal sacrifice and compassion during this pandemic. Canadians are protecting their friends and families by staying home. Others are donating to food banks, picking up groceries for friends and loved ones, and going to their jobs so we can continue to get the essential goods and services we need. By doing this, Canadians are showing the true meaning of loving our neighbours as ourselves,” he said.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of noon Sunday, Canada had 23,739 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. The provinces and territories that provide data on recovered cases listed more than 6,600 as resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths, which is based on public health information and reporting, lists 709 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, as well as two coronavirus-linked deaths of Canadians abroad.
British Columbia’s top doctor says the province is working closely with federal counterparts to deal with an outbreak at a federal prison in Mission, B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 35 new cases and three deaths on Saturday, urging residents to stay home for the long weekend and avoid “unnecessary travel.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C and how COVID-19 is likely to impact B.C.’s economy.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province would be sending equipment to other provinces battling COVID-19. Kenney said Alberta had an excess of equipment thanks to planning that began early in the pandemic. Read more about what’s happening in the province.
Ontario will receive 250,000 N95 masks, five million procedural masks, 15 million gloves, 87,000 goggles and 50 ventilators; Quebec will receive 250,000 N95 masks, two million procedural masks and 15 million gloves; while British Columbia is set to receive 250,000 N95 masks. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
WATCH | Can COVID-19 be spread by talking?
Saskatchewan has recorded its fourth death. A press release from the province said the person who died is a Saskatchewan resident in their 60s and died from COVID-19 related complications. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
In Manitoba, a Winnipeg medical team has designed a new mask for health-care workers that could help replace the N95 masks — but the province still needs to find someone to make them. Manitoba is seeking submissions from local manufacturers that would be able to start making the new masks as soon as possible. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
The Ontario government on Saturday said it has extended until April 23 all emergency orders in place under a section of the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, declared on March 17, to help slow the spread of infection.
That means the continued closure of amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price-gouging. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec Premier François Legault says health officials in the province only discovered late in the week that 31 residents of a nursing home in Dorval had died since mid-March, and that at least five of them had contracted COVID-19. He said the owners of the home kept information from the government when it reached out to investigate staffing difficulties.
Nurses say residents at CHSLD Herron were left unfed and untended, with full diapers and soiled beds. Legault said the home’s owner refused to provide the patients’ files to the government until Friday night. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
Prince Edward Island has not reported any new cases since April 8. Despite that, Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders to “stay the course” over the Easter weekend and continue to practise physical distancing. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
New Brunswick reported two new cases on Sunday, both in the Saint John region. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell reminded people that the small increase in the number of cases and the large number of recoveries is a good thing, but should not make them complacent. “Staying home will save lives,” she said. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia reported 17 new cases on Sunday, including four in a Halifax senior residence. There are now 23 cases at the complex, including eight residents, nine Halifax staff, two health-services staff and four home-care workers. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new confirmed case on Sunday, in the Eastern Health region, bringing the total number to 214, including three deaths. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
In Canada’s North, the Yukon government is offering financial assistance for eligible businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the measures to fight it. In the northern Quebec region of Nunavik, officials reported a sixth case. Nunavut is the only province or territory in Canada without any reported cases. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the United States
The United States’ top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the economy in parts of the U.S. could have a “rolling re-entry” as early as next month, provided health authorities can quickly identify and isolate people who become infected with the coronavirus.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he “can’t guarantee” that it will be safe for Americans to vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Rather than flipping a switch to reopen the entire country, Fauci said a gradual process will be required based on the status of the pandemic in various parts of the U.S. and the availability of rapid, widespread testing. Once the number of people who are seriously ill sharply declines, officials can begin to “think about a gradual re-entry of some sort of normality, some rolling re-entry,” Fauci said.
Trump is eager to restart the economy, which has stalled because most Americans are under orders to “stay at home” to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
But governors will have a lot to say about when to ease restrictions in their states, and the leaders of Maryland and New Jersey indicated Sunday that they are not likely to do so until widespread testing is available.
“The question is how fast we can get enough tests up to speed in order to help us get to the point where we are able to do all of those things,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said. He said he has set no “artificial deadline.”
WATCH | COVID-19 death toll in U.S. now highest in the world:
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the risks of reopening too soon are dangerously high. “And I fear, if we open up too early, and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” Murphy said.
The U.S. has the most confirmed cases and deaths of any nation — more than 530,000 and 20,600, respectively — according to Johns Hopkins University. In hard-hit New York, the number of deaths has topped 700 for six straight days, but the increase in people who are hospitalized is slowing, in a hopeful sign.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
Almost 80,000 people in Britain have tested positive for the virus, among them Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been discharged from hospital in London after a week-long stay, with three nights spent in intensive care.
On the advice of his medical team, Johnson will not be immediately returning to work while he continues his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, his office said Sunday.
‘I owe them my life,” Johnson, 55, said of National Health Service staff.
Britain on Sunday reported more than 10,000 deaths from the pandemic, with 657 more people succumbing to the illness. The number of new deaths in one day was lower than the previous two days, with more than 900 virus-related fatalities on Friday and Saturday.
Iran began reopening government offices Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country out of 68,000 total cases.
Authorities had ordered most government agencies and all non-essential businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on Apr. 4.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested mass gatherings may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which runs from late April through most of May.
There are more than 134,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East, including over 5,300 fatalities.
South Korea announced plans Saturday to strap tracking wristbands on people who defy quarantine orders. Officials there say stricter controls are required because some of the 57,000 people who are under orders to stay home have slipped out by leaving behind smartphones with tracking apps. Plans for broader use of wristbands were scaled back after objections by human rights and legal activists.
The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it was looking into reports of some COVID-19 patients in South Korea were testing positive again after initially testing negative for the disease.
South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the novel coronavirus had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being re-infected.
Italy has topped 19,000 deaths and 150,000 cases of the coronavirus. The milestones were hit Saturday, even as the country continued to see a slight decrease in numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care.
Officials have been warning Italians not to let their guard down even if the number of new cases and deaths is narrowing, especially on the Easter holiday weekend when many are tempted to go to the countryside or seashore.
Police checkpoints were set up around major arteries in Milan, the capital of the hardest-hit region of Lombardy — with 38 per cent of all cases and more than half of all deaths.
Spain said it will distribute 10 million face masks at major train and subway stations as the country reported its lowest daily death count in nearly three weeks with 510.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska made the announcement on Saturday, two days before factory and construction workers will be allowed to go back to work. That comes after a two-week ban on commuting for all workers not involved in health care or food production and distribution. Grande-Marlaska says police and civil protection officers will distribute the masks at “major public transport nodes” from Monday to Wednesday for those workers.
Spain has confirmed 161,852 infections and 16,353 deaths.
In France, the country’s intensive care units saw fewer patients for a third day in a row. However, deaths continue to mount. More than 13,000 people have now died.
Meanwhile, some 160,000 French security forces were fanning out around the country to ensure people respect the “stay home” mantra over the Easter weekend. Police were posted at highway entrances and other critical transiting spots for people trying to escape city life; officers on horseback combed beaches and parks along the northern French coast; and drones were used in other areas to spot people defying strict confinement rules. Those rules end Wednesday after one month, but are expected to be extended.
In Liberia, the first day of a lockdown over COVID-19 was marked by police using sticks and truncheons to separate people at a market on Saturday. Few of the physical distancing measures the government has imposed are being applied. Liberia on Saturday recorded 48 people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus with five deaths.
Turkey has reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases, pushing the total to above 50,000 since recording its first confirmed infection exactly a month ago.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says there were 5,138 cases over the previous 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 52,167. The death toll rose to 1,101 with the addition of 95 fatalities.
The minister says the rise in cases reflected a greater number of tests being conducted — 33,170 over 24 hours to take the total number of tests to 340,380.
Mainland China reported 99 new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 11, including 97 involving travellers from overseas, up from a total of 46 new cases a day earlier, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday.
The commission said in a statement that 63 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday, up from 34 on Saturday.
Mainland China’s tally of infections now stands at 82,052, while the death toll stands at 3,339.
Shanghai, China’s commercial hub, contributed to more than half of the imported cases. The city reported 52 new coronavirus cases on April 11, all involving Chinese nationals travelling from overseas, the municipal health commission said on Sunday.
Of Shanghai’s new cases, 51 flew in on the same flight from Russia on April 10. The 52nd case involves a Chinese national arriving in Shanghai from a trip to Canada.
The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine have warned of a “collapse of emergency medicine” because of a surge in coronavirus patients.
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Their statement said many hospitals were turning away people, rushed by ambulance, including those suffering strokes, heart attacks and external injuries. Some of those who were turned away later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Masks and surgical gowns were running short, the statement said. Japan has nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases and about 100 deaths, but the numbers are growing. The government has declared a state of emergency, asking people to stay home.