The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:13 a.m. Authorities in Belgium, one of the European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, are warning that the number of cases is rising at a “quite alarming” rate and that 10,000 people could be catching the virus each day by the end of the week.
Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis centre, says that “all the indicators continue to rise, it must be said, in a quite alarming way, in all provinces and all age groups.”
An average of 4,145 new cases of the disease were being recorded every day in Belgium in the week of Oct. 2-8, an increase of 89% over the previous week, according to new data released Monday. More than 6,500 new cases were reported last Wednesday alone.
Van Laethem said that “if this rise continues at the same rate, we could see 10,000 new cases a day at the end of this week.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 162,200 people have been infected with the virus in Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million people. As of Monday, 10,191 people were reported to have died from the disease.
Last week, the government tightened its coronavirus restrictions. Close contacts are limited to a maximum of three people outside of a household. In the capital, Brussels, which is seeing more than 800 new cases each day, bars and cafes were ordered to close for at least a month.
6:56 a.m. For the second day in a row, Iran has announced its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus with 272 people killed.
The announcement Monday by Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari saw Iran also announced its single-day highest count of new cases with 4,206 new patients.
Iran has been struggling with the coronavirus since announcing its first cases in February.
6:21 a.m. The British government is set to announce new restrictions Monday on business and socializing in major northern England cities with high infection rates. But pubs, restaurants and other businesses are pushing back, arguing that they are not to blame for a resurgent outbreak.
Local authorities in hard-hit cities including Liverpool and Manchester are seeking financial support for businesses that are ordered to close, and details of an exit strategy from local lockdowns.
After falling in the summer, coronavirus cases are on the rise in the U.K. as winter approaches. Under the new measures, areas of England will be placed in “tiers,” classing them as at medium, high or very high risk, and placed under restrictions of varying severity.
Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram said his city was to be placed in the highest category.
“We were told we were going into Tier 3 — no ifs, no buts,” he said.
Rotheram, mayor of the greater Liverpool region in northwest England, said local officials have not yet agreed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government what the exact restrictions will be.
Businesses including gyms and pubs are expected to be shut, but restaurants are lobbying to be allowed to remain open. Rotheram said cities also wanted to know what the exit strategy would be from the measures, which are set to be reviewed after a month.
He said local authorities want “some surety from national government that if we hit some of the milestones we can come out of Tier 3 very quickly.”
Liverpool has one of the country’s highest levels of infection, with more than 600 cases per 100,000 people.
Bar and restaurant owners have questioned whether they are major sources of transmission, and say the government has not shared the evidence to back up the claim.
Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese said data from the city’s public health officials “seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of COVID.”
But Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said “most of the outbreaks are happening within and between households and then after that, it’s in the retail and hospitality sector.”
“Alcohol and people’s behaviour are well known to be factors that result in relaxation of one’s adherence to regulations, let’s put it politely,” Semple told the BBC. “And so I can understand why this move is happening.”
The government has announced a support package to pay two-thirds of the salaries of employees of companies that are told to close, but many in the pub and restaurant sector say that is not enough to save already struggling businesses.
England is already under national restrictions including a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on more than six people gathering. Some areas have tougher measures, such as a ban on households mixing. The rest of the U.K. is under similar, and sometimes tougher, restrictions. In Scotland’s two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, pubs have been closed for 16 days to suppress the outbreak.
Without even more action, there are fears that U.K. hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks at a time of year when they are already at their busiest with flu and other winter illnesses. The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with an official death toll of 42,825.
4:01 a.m. Canadians who have missed work because of COVID-19 can start applying for new financial supports from the federal government today.
The new benefits come into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars and fitness centres to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Applications for the new Canada Recovery Benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency.
A new caregiver benefit also comes into effect today, after numerous calls since the start of the pandemic for added support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent due to COVID-19.
Women have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings because of the pandemic because they have largely shouldered the burden of child care and home schooling.
The caregiver benefit applies to people who miss work because of school or daycare closures, and whose children who miss school or daycare because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed.
It also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members who need specialized care that is unavailable to them due to COVID-19.
The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit.
The government is also creating a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks to people who can’t work because they contracted COVID-19 or must self-isolate because of the virus.
The multibillion-dollar suite of new benefits take affect following an acrimonious political battle in Parliament that ultimately saw all parties vote in favour of them, but not before the airing of widespread concern that the Liberal government was rushing them through.
10:00 p.m. Sunday: A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Western University’s London Hall residence after four people tested positive for the virus, the Middlesex-London Health Unit says.
“Declaring an outbreak is an important step in addressing any further spread of COVID-19 within the Western student community,” Dr. Alex Summers, Associate Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said in a statement.
The individuals have been advised to self-isolate and the university has said it will be delivering meals and ensuring that students are “well supported.”
Close contacts have been moved to a quarantine location and the health unit will be following up for testing measures.