Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks from behind a podium bearing the hyperlink to a federal government website about the coronavirus disease during a press conference about COVID-19 in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

COVID-19 cases march higher despite restrictions and threats of punishment

Parliament on Wednesday approved the flow of $52 billion in direct financial aid to Canadians

Amid tightening restrictions aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s unrelenting climb in cases continued Thursday with the reported number of people known to be infected approaching 3,500, with 35 of those fatal.

The pandemic, which is taxing the health-care system, has idled large swaths of the work force in a matter of days. Claims for employment insurance benefits have skyrocketed.

To ease the financial devastation, governments across the country have opened the money taps. They’ve also urged creditors to go easy on those suddenly unable to make rent or other payments.

The grim situation is being seen around the globe, with close to half-a-million people identified as infected and more than 22,000 deaths reported.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was slated to hold discussions via video conference on Thursday with leaders of the world’s biggest economies about the global impact of the pandemic.

Parliament on Wednesday approved the flow of $52 billion in direct financial aid to Canadians and another $55 billion in tax deferrals. Despite the extraordinary all-party effort to get the legislation passed, it could be weeks before needy recipients start getting cash in their hands.

COVID-19 is highly contagious and can strike anyone, although it is older people and those with less optimum health who are most at risk of succumbing to the flu-like illness, experts say. People can also infect others without showing any signs themselves.

Government and health authorities upped their pleas for people to keep their distance from others as one of the most effective ways to dampen the coronavirus spread, with fines or jail threatened for those violating rules to self-isolate or avoid larger gatherings.

“Practice physical distancing by keeping two metres from others at all times,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a series of tweets. “For those who have no symptoms, it’s OK to walk in the fresh air but the two-metre-rule still applies, always, everywhere.”

In addition, Tam said, physical distancing must be paired with frequent hand-washing and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.

Activists pressed their concerns about the difficulties facing the homeless. The closure of coffee shops and drop-in centres has only increased the logistical difficulty for those without homes to wash their hands and keep their distances from others, they said.

For those returning to Canada, a mandatory 14-day quarantine is now in effect, with potentially stiff penalties in place for non-compliance. Scofflaws face a maximum $750,000 in fines or six months in jail, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said.

READ MORE: Canada now mandating all returning travellers to quarantine: Freeland

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clearwater charity helps local man with medical costs

Group brings in $1,200 in 20 minutes

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19 brings burning ban to Clearwater and area

The reason for the ban is to help reduce excess air pollution in populated air-sheds

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Kamloops-Thompson teachers to connect with parents to reveal plans for remote teaching

School district also asking parents to ensure children are practicing social distancing

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Crucial details of Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program expected today

The government has rolled out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Most Read