Canada ‘could lose ability’ to manage coronavirus pandemic: Live

Chief public health officer issues warning after country reports worrying recent spike in new COVID-19 cases.

outside image - canada
People walk on the grounds of the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2020. Picture taken September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio [Reuters]
  • Canada could lose its ability to manage the pandemic due to a spike in new COVID-19 cases, the country’s top medical officer has said.
  • One in seven cases of COVID-19 reported to the WHO is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three, according to the organisation.
  • President Donald Trump continues to claim there will be a coronavirus vaccine in weeks, contradicting the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart says the global economic recovery from the crisis originated by the pandemic may take as much as five years.
  • Nearly 30 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 942,758 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some 20.3 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates: 

Thursday, September 17

23:20 GMT – US public health experts call on FDA to ensure future coronavirus vaccine ‘safe and effective’

Dozens of organisations representing physicians, public health officials and patients in the United States are urging the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure any future novel coronavirus vaccine meets the agency’s “existing high standards of safety and efficacy”.

“While we are encouraged by the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine, the process must be fully transparent and not circumvent regulatory standards,” the groups wrote in a letter to the FDA commissioner and director on Thursday.

The letter comes after US President Donald Trump contradicted the country’s top public health expert on Wednesday by insisting that a viable COVID-19 vaccine would be ready by October and in mass distribution soon after.

Democrats, including vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and some public health experts have criticised Trump’s push to get a vaccine out before the upcoming US presidential elections on November 4 as imprudent.

22:22 GMT – Ex-Pence aide says Trump bungled coronavirus response

A former White House aide who helped coordinate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic criticised President Donald Trump in a video and said she planned to vote for Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential eleciton.

Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, served as a top organizer for the White House Coronavirus Task Force that Pence leads.

A lifelong Republican, Troye, who has since left the White House, said in a video released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump that the administration knew around mid-February that COVID-19 would become a big pandemic in the United States.

“But the president didn’t want to hear that because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how was this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success,” she said. “The truth is he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.”

22:10 GMT – Brazil registers 829 new deaths

Brazil recorded 829 new deaths due to coronavirus, bringing the total to 134,106. New cases rose by 36,303 to 4,455,386.

20:10 GMT – Texas eases restrictions as cases drop, but bars still closed

Texas is ready to relax coronavius restrictions for the first time in months, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has announced, but bars remain closed indefinitely and a mask mandate is still in place.

In allowing restaurants and gyms to let more people inside, as well as lifting a ban on elective surgeries and nursing home visits under certain criteria, Abbott said a dramatic drop in hospitalised COVID-19 patients has made it possible to ease restrictions.

18:49 GMT – Latin Americans seek more time to join COVAX vaccine facility

Several Latin American countries have informed the WHO they intend to request more time to sign up for its global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, an official at the WHO’s regional branch said.

Countries have until midnight on Friday to formalise legally-binding commitments to COVAX, a mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines.

17:29 GMT – France reports new daily record of more than 10,000 cases

France has registered 10,593 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, setting a new daily record and pushing the total number to 415,481, the health ministry says.

The previous record was 10,561 new cases in a day, recorded on September 12. The increase is a result of a higher infection rate but also of a massive increase in testing.

The government has made COVID-19 testing free, resulting in long queues at testing centres in cities across France.

17:25 GMT – Canada could lose ability to manage pandemic: Chief medical officer

Canada could lose its ability to manage the pandemic due to a spike in new COVID-19 cases, the country’s top medical officer has said.

“The ongoing increase in new cases being reported daily continues to give cause for concern,” Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said in a statement.

“With continued circulation of the virus, the situation could change quickly and we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels.”

An average of 779 new cases had been reported daily during the most recent week, more than double the level in July, Tam said. Officials in major provinces blame social gatherings for the spike.

Phase 2 reopening in Toronto
People enjoy drinks and food at a patio in Toronto, Ontario, Canada [File: Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

17:10 GMT – Namibia to allow international travel, lift state of emergency

Namibia has said it will allow international travel from September 18 as it ends a six-month-long state of emergency with the average number of daily cases decreasing.

President Hage Geingob, during a media briefing, said the government had considered the economic implications of continuing the restrictions and the state of preparedness of its hospitals.

Contact sports will be allowed to resume, gambling houses and casinos can reopen and gatherings will be allowed up to either 50 percent of a venue’s capacity or a maximum of 50 people, according to attorney general Festus Mbandeka during the media briefing.

16:27 GMT – England adds Slovenia to quarantine list, Singapore and Thailand removed

Slovenia and Guadaloupe have been added to the list of countries from which travellers must quarantine when entering the UK, British transport minister Grant Shapps said.

Anybody arriving in the UK from the two countries after 4am local time on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days, he said on Twitter.

However, travellers from Singapore and Thailand have been added to the UK’s Travel Corridor list meaning they will no longer have to quarantine on arrival.

16:24 GMT – Mexico requests month-long extension on US-Mexico border restrictions

Mexico’s foreign ministry has requested another month-long extension on land-crossing restrictions at the US-Mexico border.

The restrictions, first implemented last March, would be in place until October 21, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

15:44 GMT – Family and friends are major sources of infections: French minister

Gatherings of family are a major source of COVID-19 infections, French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said.

Five people out of 100 tested for COVID-19 are today positive, versus one in a 100 at the start of summer, Veran added.

15:35 GMT – Airline CEOs plead with White House to avert looming US job cuts

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has met with major airline chief executives as the industry braces for thousands of job cuts in two weeks, and has urged legislators to embrace a $1.5 trillion coronavirus aid package proposed by a bipartisan congressional group and endorsed by Trump.

Meadows told reporters “if (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi was willing to move a bill to keep people from being laid off in the airline industry that’s stand-alone, that the president would certainly support it”.

15:27 GMT – UK’s 500,000 daily test target will have to grow after October: Official

The UK will need more than the current target of 500,000 daily COVID-19 tests after October, the head of the test and trace system has said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government was working hard to increase testing capacity, saying he aimed to be able to do 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

15:05 GMT – NYC again delays in-person learning for most students

New York City has again delayed the planned start of in-person learning for most of the more than one million students in its public school system.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that most elementary school students would do remote-only learning until September 29. Middle and high schools would stay remote through October 1.

Pre-kindergarten students and some other special education students will be the only ones who resume in-person instruction on Monday, as originally planned.

14:36 GMT – Jakarta plans to double virus testing as cases soar

Indonesia’s capital plans to double its COVID-19 testing capacity in the near future, its governor told Reuters.

Jakarta alone has seen more than 1,000 new daily cases on average this month, more than double the average in the first half of August.

Governor Anies Baswedan said in an interview the city of 10 million was conducting about 50,000 weekly tests and hopes to “at least reach double from where we are today”.

According to the WHO Jakarta’s weekly testing rate of 5.5-6 people per 1,000 population in the past three weeks was five times the WHO’s minimum benchmark.

14:21 GMT – Cases in Netherlands hit record daily high: health authorities

The number of cases in the Netherlands has hit a record high for the third consecutive day at 1,753, data released by national health authorities have shown.

On Wednesday 1,542 new infections were reported.

The total number of cases has increased to 88,073.

14:15 GMT – Ireland to quarantine people travelling from Greece, Italy

Ireland has added Greece and Italy to the list of countries from which travellers are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

A new “Green List” which goes into effect on Monday allows travellers arriving from just seven countries to avoid quarantine: Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.


Hello, this is Mersiha Gadzo in Toronto, Canada taking over the live updates from my colleague Umut Uras in Doha, Qatar.


12:20 GMT – One in seven reported virus cases is among health workers: WHO

One in seven cases of COVID-19 reported to the WHO is a health worker and in some countries that figure rises to one in three, the agency said on Thursday.

The WHO called for front-line medical workers to be provided with protective equipment to prevent them from being infected with the novel coronavirus, and potentially spreading it to their patients and families.

For Blog
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment takes swabs from a farmer in Gujarat, India [File: Reuters] 

11:40 GMT – WHO’s Ryan: Do not turn COVID-19 into ‘political football’

The WHO’s top emergency expert, asked about contradictory remarks by Trump and US health officials on COVID-19, said it was important for all countries to have “consistent messaging” for their public.

Trump took exception on Wednesday to comments from the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, who said a vaccine could be broadly rolled out in mid-2021 and masks might be more effective.

Trump, at a news conference, said he believed a vaccine will be rolled out much sooner. He said he called Redfield after his testimony to question him about it, and that Redfield appeared to have been confused by the question.

11:00 GMT – International arrivals to Abu Dhabi must wear tracking device

International passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi airport will now have to wear a tracking device while they complete a mandatory 14-day home quarantine due to COVID-19, according to state-owned Etihad Airways.

Daily infections in the United Arab Emirates rose this month to their highest since the outbreak started, which officials have largely blamed on people not practising social distancing.

Those arriving at Abu Dhabi airport would be fitted with a medically-approved wristband, which is removed after the 14-days of home quarantine, according to Etihad’s latest travel update.

10:30 GMT – Philippines considers relaxing travel ban for nurses

The Philippines is considering allowing more nurses and other medical professionals to leave for jobs abroad after banning them from travel so they can fight coronavirus at home, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said.

Healthcare workers from the Philippines are on the front lines of the pandemic at hospitals in the US, Europe and the Middle East as well as back home.

The labour minister has proposed to expand exemptions to those who had contracts abroad as of August 31. So far, it is only those with contracts as of March 8 who have been allowed to travel.

10:05 GMT – Belarus planning 100-person clinical trial of Russia’s vaccine

Belarus is considering conducting a 100-person trial of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, the health ministry said, adding that potential participants can now apply online at eight local clinics that have been selected to conduct the trial.

The trial, one of several that Russia hopes to conduct abroad, is still pending regulatory approval, the ministry said, adding it had received paperwork from Russia and was inspecting it.

Large-scale trials of the Sputnik-V vaccine, known as Phase III trials, are ongoing in Russia and involve at least 40,000 people. Initial results are expected in October or November, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has said.

09:20 GMT – Philippines sees 3,375 new coronavirus cases

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 3,375 new coronavirus infections and 53 additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have reached 276,289, the most in Southeast Asia, while deaths have increased to 4,785.

Commuters - Philippines
A security officer in a protective suit walks past commuters at a metro station in Manila [File: EPA]

08:45 GMT – World financial recovery may take five years: World Bank chief economist

The global economic recovery from the crisis originated by the coronavirus pandemic may take as much as five years, the World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart said.

“There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted, but a full recovery will take as much as five years,” Reinhart said in a remote intervention during a conference held in Madrid.

Reinhart said the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries than in others and will exacerbate inequalities as the poorest will be hit harder by the crisis in rich countries and the poorest countries will be harder hit than richer countries. For the first time in twenty years, global poverty rates will rise following the crisis, she added.

8:10 GMT – Red Cross warns virus is driving discrimination in Asia

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned the novel coronavirus is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, including migrants and foreigners.

The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.

“It is particularly concerning that both national migrant and foreign workers are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 as they are quite vulnerable already,” Dr Viviane Fluck, one of the lead researchers and the agency’s Asia Pacific community engagement and accountability coordinator, told the Reuters news agency.

She said there should be more focus on combating “rumours that are linked to underlying power dynamics and structural issues of inequality”.

07:40 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus death toll passes 19,000

Russia’s death toll from the novel coronavirus passed 19,000, as the country reported 144 new deaths in the previous 24 hours.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre registered 5,762 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 1,085,281, the world’s fourth-highest caseload.

Russia's coronavirus cases rise to 687,862
Russia’s tally of coronavirus infections stands at 1,085,281, the world’s fourth-highest [File: Anadolu] 

07:00 GMT – Hurtigruten cancels remaining 2020 cruises

Norway’s Hurtigruten has called off its remaining cruises this year due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the Americas, the company said.

The decision affects Hurtigruten’s so-called expedition cruises, which often take passengers into Arctic or Antarctic waters, though its business of shipping goods and people between ports along the Norwegian coast will continue.

The company was the first cruise operator worldwide to return an oceangoing cruise ship to service in mid-June, touting reduced passenger capacity, social distancing and strict rules on hygiene.

06:40 GMT – UK faces bottleneck on testing due to lab capacity: minister

Britain faces difficulties in carrying out COVID-19 tests due to shortages of lab capacity, said junior health minister Edward Argar.

“Lab capacity is one of the bottlenecks, or one of the challenges in significantly increasing that capacity,” Argar told Sky News.

Britain can avoid further local restrictions and another national lockdown by sticking to the rules such as not meeting in groups of more than six people, the minister added.

06:15 GMT – Czech Republic’s daily jump in COVID-19 cases exceeds 2,000

The Czech Republic reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time as it battles a surge in infections that is among the fastest in Europe.

The health ministry recorded 2,139 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, up from a previous record 1,675 reported for the previous day.

Czech Republic quarantines entire country over COVID-19
People wearing masks as a precaution against coronavirus walk on street in Prague [File: Anadolu] 

05:45 GMT – Ukraine sets daily record with 3,584 new virus cases

Ukraine set a daily record with 3,584 new coronavirus infections, the national security council said, up from a figure of 3,144 on Sept. 11.

Ukraine has a total of 166,244 cases, with 3,400 deaths and 73,913 recoveries, the council added.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:15 GMT – Survey finds people in Asia blame certain groups for COVID-19

Nearly half of people in four Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan – blame certain groups for spreading COVID-19 including foreigners, people attending religious ceremonies and those who do not follow the rules on matters such as mask-wearing or physical distancing.

Viviane Fluck, the community engagement and accountability coordinator at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Asia Pacific, which carried out the survey, described the findings as alarming.

“We are very concerned that vulnerable groups such as migrants and those who cannot afford protective equipment may be discriminated against due to stigma and fear,” she said in a statement. The survey also found nearly four out of five people distrusted social media, despite it being one of the leading sources of information about the virus.

05:00 GMT – The journey not the destination, airlines offer flights to nowhere

More of the Asia Pacific’s embattled airlines are offering “flights to nowhere” as the pandemic grounds international travel, according to Reuters news agency.

Qantas is the latest to join the trend, offering a seven-hour flight over Australia’s Outback and Great Barrier Reef, which apparently sold out in 10 minutes despite a starting price of 787 Australian dollars ($575). Taiwan’s EVA Airways and Japan’s ANA have also offered special sightseeing flights.

Tough border restrictions to keep the coronavirus under control have led to a 97.5 percent plunge in international travel in the region, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

04:40 GMT – Syria cases may be much higher than figures suggest: UN

The United Nation’s top humanitarian official says coronavirus could be much more widespread in Syria than official figures suggest.

Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday that it would only be possible to get a clearer picture of the situation when testing was stepped up. He noted that the source of nearly 90 percent of confirmed cases could not be traced to a known source, suggesting widespread community transmission.

Syria has confirmed 3,618 cases of the virus.

04:30 GMT – India breaks daily record for coronavirus cases – again

India has reported another record jump in daily coronavirus cases confirming 97,894 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Deaths, which have been relatively low so far, are also climbing. The country has recorded more than 1,000 deaths every day for the last two weeks.

04:10 GMT – Burberry to kick off first virtual London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is due to get underway later on Thursday with a livestreamed show from the luxury British brand Burberry.

The show will be broadcast online at 12:00 GMT with Riccardo Tisci, its Italian designer, promising an uninhabited wilderness show in a collaboration with German artist Anne Imhof that has been described as a “radical meeting of fashion and art”.

Around 80 designers will present their latest collections during the six-day event, but only a handful will stage the kind of physical shows that in pre-COVID times drew hordes of industry insiders, celebrities and journalists from around the world.

03:50 GMT – World’s biggest glovemaker to report record profit

Malaysia’s Top Glove is due to report record profits later on Thursday, thanks to a surge in sales as a result of the coronavirus.

Analysts are expecting the company – the world’s biggest manufacturer of rubber and nitrile gloves – to announce a profit of at least one billion Malaysian ringgit ($241m) for the three months ended August 31, its fiscal fourth quarter.

Top Glove is benefitting from higher prices and a surge in demand as a result of the coronavirus, but it has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers. US customs imposed an import ban on its products in July over forced labour concerns.

Malaysia Top Glove
A worker inspects disposable gloves at the Top Glove factory in Shah Alam near the Malaysian capital. The company’s expected to report record profits on Thursday thanks to COVID-19 demand [Mohd Rasfan/AFP]

03:40 GMT – Relief for Australian sport as NSW relaxes restrictions

Crowds of as many as 40,000 people will soon be able to attend major sporting events in Sydney after the New South Wales government announced a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

The new rules – allowing stadiums to be filled to 50 percent capacity – come into effect on October 1 as the National Rugby League and Rugby Championship approach the end of their seasons. 

Stadium Australia, the arena built for the 2000 Olympics, will be able to welcome 40,000 fans, the new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta 15,000 and the Sydney Cricket Ground 23,000.

Fans will have to wear facemasks going into the stadiums, but will be able to take them off inside, where they will be seated in “chequerboard” arrangements to allow physical distancing, the NSW government said.

02:45 GMT – ‘Punched, hit, kicked, shoved, deliberately spat at’

New research shows holders of temporary visas in Australia suffered increasing racist abuse after they were left out of the government’s economic support schemes and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was time to go home.

In a survey of more than 6,000 temporary visa holders, a quarter said they had experienced racist abuse, and a quarter reported people avoiding them because of their appearance.

More than one million people live in Australia on temporary visas including international students, backpackers, and refugees. The survey found 70 percent of respondents lost all or most of their work as a result of the pandemic, with one in three international students expecting their funds to run out by next month.

02:15 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro appoints general as new health minister

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has appointed a general with no experience in health as the country’s new health minister.

General Eduardo Pazuello was given the job on a temporary basis four months ago, but will now be made permanent. He has been more willing to go along with Bolsonaro’s approach to the pandemic than his predecessors, including recommending doctors prescribe hydroxycholoroquine to treat COVID-19 despite there being no evidence of it being effective.

Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the virus as a “little flu”, brandished a box of the drug as Pazuello was sworn into office in Brasilia.

Brazil Pazuello
Brazilian Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who has no background in health. has been more willing to go along with President Bolsonaro’s pandemic response than his predecessors [Sergio Lima/AFP]

01:35 GMT – Australia tensions rise over citizens stuck overseas

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the number of people allowed into Australia will rise by 2,000 from next Friday, according to public broadcaster ABC.

The states, who will have to house the arrivals in hotel quarantine have yet to give their approval.

About 4,000 people are currently allowed into Australia each week, but at least 25,000 are stranded overseas because of the cap on arrivals. Many Australians also say they have been bumped from flights home repeatedly.

00:30 GMT – New Zealand reports record fall in GDP

New Zealand has just released economic data for the second quarter when the country was in lockdown, and it’s not pretty.

The figures show gross domestic product shrank by 12.2 percent compared with the previous quarter, the biggest drop on record. The country is now in its worst recession since 2010.

00:00 GMT – Trump contradicts CDC chief over vaccine

US President Donald Trump has directly contradicted Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the timing of any coronavirus vaccine.

While Redfield told a US Senate committee a vaccine was unlikely to be ready until mid to late 2021, Trump said it would be much sooner and accused the CDC chief of making a “mistake” and being “confused”. He told the news conference a vaccine could be announced as soon as October. 

Trump has been pushing for a vaccine ahead of the November election, raising concerns about safety. Vaccine development usually takes years, and there is no guarantee of success. The process has been accelerated for the coronavirus and there are a number of candidates currently in large-scale phase three human trials, which are designed to test efficacy and safety.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 16) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies