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Lockdown living: how Europeans are avoiding going stir crazy | World news

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In Italy they are singing and sharing recipes. In France, humour is saving the day. In Spain, communal staircases have become the new running tracks, and in Germany, ordinarily disorderly hackers are busy coding corona-busting apps.

As hundreds of millions of Europeans languish in lockdown, people are finding increasingly inventive ways to keep themselves entertained – and to counter what the continent’s psychologists warning are the very real risks of confinement.

Like everyone else, Italy’s 60 million citizens, who went into lockdown on 9 March, have been “asked to make sacrifices”, said Sara Raginelli, a psychologist in Ancona. “And as we live in a rather dramatic way, our mental health is being challenged.”

In a survey during the first week of Italy’s confinement, 93% of respondents said they felt at least a little anxious, while 42% described a distinct drop in their mood and 28% reported that they were not sleeping well.

Italians are entitled to a free online consultation from the health ministry, which has warned of a “psychological emergency”, saying people risk being “overwhelmed by fear of a insidious virus that has banned us from hugging and being close to others”.

Some 9,000 psychologists are involved in the #psicologionline scheme, offering phone or video consultations aimed also at countering the “heartbreaking effects of the daily death toll, warlike scenes, and easy risk of infection if we don’t stay home”.

Some degree of anxiety, of course, is only normal. Borwin Bandelow, from Göttingen in Germany, said humans developed into social creatures to survive, so isolation was an unnatural state for most. “In the past we lived in tribes, and those who broke away from those tribes had very little chance,” he told Der Spiegel.

That meant isolation “can cause some to develop pathological angst conditions,” he said. But overall, the long-term negative effects of physical isolation should be considerably lessened by the knowledge that everyone is experiencing them, said Bandelow, who has made a special study of fear.

“As soon as an exceptional situation affects many people, the effect is less strong … During the war in Yugoslavia, patients who habitually suffered panic attacks were no more scared than the next person. In fact, the number of panic attacks decreased, because they were suddenly faced with other, very concrete things they had to fear. They needed to protect themselves, and so needed to have control over their bodies.”

Germans who suffer from angst or panic at an avalanche of coronavirus news can turn to a fear-free news service, angstfrei.news, which twice a day publishes a short news overview so that they can stay informed without being overwhelmed by horror stories.

French psychologists echo the importance of realising that the pain is shared. While everyone will respond differently, we all “have to be able to make sense of the situation”, said Aurélia Schneider. “This will give us psychological protection. It’s about knowing this isn’t an individual and isolated suffering, but a collective suffering.”

In Spain, however, clinical psychologist Albert Soler warned against the dangers of trying to stay falsely upbeat. “When things are bad, being pressured to be positive can be positively harmful,” he said. “The positivism of Instagram is dangerous at the best of times – but now it’s even worse.”

In terms of practical advice, Europe’s psychologists mainly stress the importance of staying in touch and keeping busy, if necessary with the help of daily to-do lists. In Italy, Raginelli’s advice was to “maintain contact with others” by every means possible and as much as possible.

Rosella De Leonibus, a psychologist in Perugia, said that keeping active was vitally important. What counted, she said, was “everything that’s an action – with a result. Passive is no use; passivity makes you feel anxious and increases anxiety.”

Erik Scherder, a professor of neuropsychology at VU university in Amsterdam, said the crisis presented a challenge and an opportunity: to exercise. “The biggest gains are for those who are very sedentary,” he told De Standaard. “Which is most of us.”

Belgians, who went into confinement on 17 March, are getting regular down-to-earth suggestions on how to live their best locked-down lives by the spokesman at the national crisis centre, Benoît Ramacker, who advises basic everyday activities such as cooking, reading, gardening and DIY.

“The psycho-social dimension is very important in this crisis,” Ramacker said at one briefing, urging people not to spend the whole day on social media and to establish a routine that gives structure to their days. “You can do a lot at home.”

But there are bound to be tensions. When the inevitable rows do break out, Jean-Luc Aubert from Nantes suggests self-isolating for a while in the bathroom. “Everyone is a little anxious, so it doesn’t take much for everyone to get upset, angry, worse,” he said. “We have to acknowledge this, to be very careful and on our guard.”

Whether they have listened to the psychologists or not, millions across the continent have developed coping strategies. Gregarious by nature and used to living life outdoors, Spaniards – most of whom, like many Europeans, live in apartments – are finding solitude, silence and confinement particularly hard.

Rooftop terraces have become a popular location for workouts, although not everyone has access. Many have taken to running up and down the communal staircase. One father reported that his daughter was keeping up volleyball practice at home, using a toilet roll as a ball so as to avoid breakages.

Many, too, have been faced with the delicate challenge of educating elderly relatives they would habitually visit at least once a week in the use of mobile technology. “I’ve taught my 82-year-old mother how to make video calls,” said Reme, one Barcelona resident. “Now there’s no stopping her.”

Italians, also suffering from having to lead an indoor life, cheered the world in the early stages of their confinement by singing or playing musical instruments from their balconies each night in a show of solidarity, although reports suggest that has tapered off over the past week.

Many have now taken to doing online yoga or are sharing their fitness regimes. Others have been writing, painting, and cooking more – and sharing their recipes online. Many are joining top chef Massimo Bottura for his live Instagram show.

“It’s not a masterclass, it’s kitchen quarantine with our family,” Bottura said. “We just want to have fun and show to the world that with a few things – a table, a few ingredients, a family – we can have fun.”

Simona Fabrizio, another international chef and the owner of Sagraincasa in Orvieto, Umbria, asks her followers to pick one ingredient – eggs, tuna, chicken – and create a recipe with an additional four ingredients, then share their pictures.

In Germany, 42,000 programmers and software designers gathered online for a mass hackathon. #Wirvsvirus (we against the virus) came up with possible solutions to problems including virus tracking, improving inter-hospital communication, distributing food to the homeless, and helping farmers find people to bring in the harvest, and ended with a mass party on YouTube and Slack. A jury will decide which projects will be supported, with government funding guaranteed for the best.

Like many across Europe, Brussels residents have taken to applauding healthcare workers at at their windows and balconies at 8pm every evening. Belgium’s King Philippe flies a white flag from the Royal Palace in tribute.

In France, confined since 17 March and allowed out – on pain of a heavy fine – only to shop for essentials, exercise or walk the dog, humour has – for the time being – become a mainstay of social media conversation. Comedians post a new video every day.

Photoshopped images of exhausted dogs (“Everyone in the apartment block has walked me today; when will it end?”) abound. President Emmanuel Macron, his face digitally aged by a decade, informs the nation: “Compatriots, you may now go out.” A spoof tourist guidebook promises “the indispensable guide to the finest undiscovered corners of your place of residence”.

Videos of neighbours cycling round the balcony and flatmates playing foot-ping have gone viral while on Twitter individuals share their tales of lockdown woe: “My mother: ‘You don’t get fed up spending the whole day on your computer?’ Me: ‘I run a web marketing department.’ Mother: ‘So?’” tweeted one.

Another lamented that after only four days of confinement, his mother could take no more: “She told me to go out – and she’d pay the fine.”

Reporting by Angela Giuffrida, Kate Connolly, Kim Willsher, Jennifer Rankin and Stephen Burgen.



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The Latest: Calif. school fined for defying pandemic order | Coronavirus

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SAN FRANCISCO — A California private school has been ordered to pay $15,000 for defying a judge’s order to close classrooms and stop in-person teaching.

Tuesday’s decision in Fresno County Superior Court ends a nearly three-month legal battle that pitted county and state officials against Immanuel Schools, which is a private K-12 Christian school in California’s Central Valley.

It may be the first judgment of its kind against a California school for violating health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

———

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— AP-NORC poll: Two-thirds of Americans don’t trust Trump much on virus

— CDC: ‘Strong recommendation’ for masks on planes, trains, buses

— Arizona reports more than 1,000 coronavirus cases

— Federal judge considers challenge to CDC order halting evictions of certain renters through the end of year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

— British PM Johnson imposing strict coronavirus restrictions on Greater Manchester, England’s second-largest urban area, after talks fail on financial support.

World Series opens Tuesday night with Major League Baseball relieved to reach the championship of a pandemic-delayed season.

———

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

———

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is seeing its largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic began, with the number of new cases increasing 46.5% over the past two weeks.

That has some health care experts urging Gov. Brad Little to take additional action to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Bart Hill with the St. Luke’s Regional Health System says Idaho’s current approach hasn’t worked to change the trajectory of the pandemic. He says hospital officials are meeting with the governor to encourage additional steps like statewide information campaigns targeting teens and young adults.

The governor has said the responsibility for efforts to slow the virus falls on individuals. He urges people to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.

———

DENVER — Colorado’s governor says he won’t impose new statewide restrictions for addressing what he calls an alarming acceleration of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that he will instead encourage the people of Colorado to take responsibility for mask wearing, social distancing, getting tested, self-quarantining and other behaviors to stem the virus’s spread.

Polis says roughly 80% of the pandemic fight comes down to personal decisions. He also says local health agencies are best suited to deal with any rising cases among their residents.

The state reported 1,208 new confirmed cases Tuesday and 417 hospitalizations.

———

SEATTLE — Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is requiring colleges and universities to provide quarantine facilities for all students if they are exposed to the coronavirus.

The governor on Tuesday issued more restrictions for higher education campuses as the University of Washington struggles to contain an outbreak in its fraternities and sororities. There also have been outbreaks in Whitman County, home of Washington State University.

The new guidelines require colleges to provide isolation and quarantine facilities for Greek system houses, communal off-campus homes, students living in dorms and other personnel if they don’t have a place to go. Colleges without dorms or residential facilities will have to devise plans for addressing student and staff needs for isolation and quarantine in the event of exposure.

———

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Students at the University of Michigan are being ordered to stay in place for two weeks after a surge of coronavirus cases driven by social gatherings on and off campus.

Local health officials said Tuesday that the surge is overwhelming their ability to confront the pandemic. Officials say coronavirus cases related to the university represent 61% of the total in Washtenaw County, compared to just 2% in August.

More than 1,000 students have been infected since the start of fall term despite limits on gatherings and classes that are mostly held online. Undergraduate students can attend in-person classes and also leave their residences for exercise, work, food, medical appointments, voting and religious services.

In response to the order, university President Mark Schlissel says even more undergraduate classes will shift to remote instruction. Students who want to leave campus housing for the balance of the term could receive a refund or credit.

———

NEW YORK — A new study shows that older workers are facing higher unemployment than midcareer workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The study released Tuesday from researchers with the New School university in New York City found that workers 55 and older lost jobs sooner, were rehired slower and continue to face higher job losses than their counterparts ages 35 to 54.

The researchers say that from April through September, the older workers’ unemployment rate was 9.7% compared to 8.6% for midcareer workers. That’s based on a six-month rolling average.

The study says the rate was far worse for older workers who are black, female or lack college degrees.

———

NEW YORK — A new government report shows that since the coronavirus pandemic began, the U.S. has seen 300,000 more deaths than it usually would.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking how many deaths have been reported and comparing them with counts seen in other years. Usually, between the beginning of February and the end of September, about 1.9 million deaths are reported. This year, it’s closer to 2.2 million – a 14.5% increase.

The CDC says the coronavirus was involved in about two-thirds of the excess deaths. CDC officials say it’s likely the virus was a factor in many other deaths too. For example, someone with heart attack symptoms may have hesitated to go to a hospital that was busy with coronavirus patients.

The largest segment of the excess deaths, about 95,000, were in elderly people ages 75 to 84. That was 21.5% more than in a normal year. But the biggest relative increase, 26.5%, was in people ages 25 to 44. Deaths in people younger than 25 actually dropped slightly.

Deaths were up for different racial and ethnic groups, but the largest increase – 54% – was among Hispanic Americans.

———

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Tuesday she was “disappointed” that Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican, held a campaign rally in Hermon that appeared to exceed the state’s attendance limit for outdoor gatherings.

Pence held the event on Monday to tout President Donald Trump’s reelection bid and promote Maine Republicans. The state limits outdoor gatherings to 100 people. Maine Republican Party Jason Savage said there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people in attendance.

Savage was dismissive of criticism of the event Monday: “I guess we’ll have to call it a ‘peaceful protest.’ Gov. Mills and her pals should be fine then,” Savage said in an e-mail.

———

ATLANTA — The CDC is strongly recommending passengers on planes, trains and buses wear masks, but it’s stopping short of requiring it.

The CDC says the coronavirus is still being transmitted in the U.S. and internationally through travel. Those travelers are often in close contact with others, sometimes for several hours. Masks are necessary because travelers may be unable to stay 6 feet apart on planes and buses, CDC says.

It says masks should be worn by all passengers and workers on planes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-sharing vehicles.

That includes in airports and at subway and bus stations. All leading U.S. airlines require passengers other than small children to wear masks during flights, but enforcement can be spotty. The Federal Aviation Administration has declined to require masks.

The CDC says it was offering the new recommendations to support state and local health officials and transportation operators who have imposed their own mask rules.

———

PHOENIX — Arizona reported more than 1,000 daily coronavirus cases for the second time in a week.

The state Department of Health Services reported 1,040 cases Tuesday and seven more deaths, increasing the statewide totals to 232,937 cases and 5,837 deaths.

The state’s rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks from 508.6 new cases on Oct. 5 to 835.3 on Oct. 19, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press.

The rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 12 per day to 10 during the same period. The rolling average of Arizona’s positivity rate rose from 6.6% to 8.9%.

Arizona was a national hotspot in July and July.

———

OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of people hospitalized in Oklahoma with the coronavirus reached a record high 821.

The number reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday is 28 more than the previous record of 793 recorded on Friday.

Gov. Kevin Stitt plans to discuss hospital capacity in the state. The health department reported an additional 1,475 cases and 18 deaths.

There’s been a total of 109,548 confirmed cases and 1,191 deaths in Oklahoma.

———

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnian officials say social restrictions might become unavoidable if the population flouts current restrictions, including mask mandates and a ban on large indoor gatherings.

“It would be very difficult to adequately respond to continued sudden spikes in infections because our human resources are limited,” says Goran Cerkez, the assistant health minister in the larger of the country’s two autonomous parts.

Over the past seven days, there’s been an average of 506 cases per day registered in Bosnia, an increase of more than 40% from the average a week earlier. At the same time, several hospitals around the country say their COVID-19 wings are filling up.

The impoverished Balkan nation of 3.5 million record 728 infections on Tuesday, increasing to 35,400 confirmed cases. Bosnia’s total death toll has surpassed 1,000.

———

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’ll impose the highest level of coronavirus restrictions on the Greater Manchester region, after no deal was reached on a financial package.

Johnson says action was needed to protect the lives of Manchester’s residents and the region’s health care system. The Tier 3 measures mean pubs and businesses must close and people in England’s second-largest city are banned from socializing with other households.

Leaders of the Greater Manchester region have resisted the tough restrictions for days, saying local businesses forced to close would need more financial support from the government.

Mayor Andy Burnham says he asked for an aid package, but the government walked away from the talks.

———

MADRID — Spain is poised to become the first country in Europe to surpass the milestone of 1 million officially recorded cases of the new coronavirus.

The Spanish Health Ministry reported Tuesday that authorities have recorded nearly 14,000 new cases, taking the total to 988,322.

At the current rate of infection, Spain is likely to exceed 1 million on Wednesday.

Health experts say the true number of infections is probably much higher. That’s because insufficient testing, asymptomatic cases and other issues mean official counts fail to capture the real scale of the outbreak.

Spain has confirmed 34,210 deaths from the coronavirus.

———

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The number of people hospitalized in Ohio because of the coronavirus has reached 1,154, the department of health reported.

The agency says that’s the highest since July, with 158 on ventilators.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine again asked Ohioans to wear masks and stay socially distanced.

The Health Department reported 1,837 confirmed virus cases on Monday, above the 21-day case average of 1,515.

A record 2,178 cases reported on Oct. 15. Ohio has reported more than 183,000 confirmed cases and 5,075 deaths.

———

WASHINGTON — A new poll finds Americans’ trust in the people and institutions giving them information about the coronavirus has fallen across the board.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they don’t trust President Donald Trump much or at all for accurate coronavirus information. That’s according to a poll by USAFacts and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll finds that the percentage of people saying they trust COVID-19 information from their state or local governments, the news media, social media and their friends and family has dropped significantly compared to similar questions in April. After Trump, the poll shows only social media has higher distrust levels.

The poll also shows a large chunk of Americans find it hard to know if COVID-19 information is accurate.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 821 cases, 3 more deaths; 1 in 4 Canadians say mental health is worse now

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KEY FACTS

  • 11:05 a.m.: Ontario reporting 821 cases, 3 more deaths

  • 5:49 a.m.: Argentina passes 1 million COVID-19 cases

  • 5:44 a.m.: 1 in 4 Canadians saying stress level higher than first wave

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

2:50 p.m.: As Argentina passed 1 million virus cases Monday, it is now smaller cities like Ushuaia that are seeing some of the most notable upticks. Doctors have had to quadruple the number of beds for COVID-19 patients over the last month. At least 60 per cent of those tested recently are coming back positive for the virus.

Across Latin America, three other nations are expected to reach the 1 million case milestone in the coming weeks — Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The grim mark comes as Latin America continues to register some of the world’s highest daily case counts. And though some nations have seen important declines, overall there has been little relief, with cases dropping in one municipality only to escalate in another.

The trajectory is showing that the pandemic is likely to leave no corner of Latin America unscathed.

“The second wave is arriving without ever having finished the first,” said Dr. Luis Jorge Hernández, a public health professor at the University of the Andes in Colombia.

Argentina has seen cases spiral despite instituting one of the world’s longest lockdowns. Colombia’s major cities have seen a dip, but smaller areas like the department of Caldas in the coffee region are only now reaching a peak. Peru’s overall numbers have dropped, but officials recently reported 12 regions are spiking back up. Mexico, likewise, has seen a rise in a quarter of all states over the last week.

2:20 p.m.: Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced a tough new lockdown. From midnight Wednesday, non-essential shops must close, restaurants will be limited to takeout, people must stay within five kilometres of their homes and visits to other households are banned.

It’s a near-return to the severe restrictions imposed by the government in March, although schools, construction sites and manufacturing industries will remain open. Martin said that if people complied with the restrictions, which will be in place until Dec. 1, the country would be able to celebrate Christmas “in a meaningful way.”

Ireland, which has a population of almost 5 million, has recorded 1,852 coronavirus deaths.

2:20 p.m.: Iran has reported a single-day record of more than 5,000 coronavirus cases.

Iran’s health ministry reported 322 deaths, pushing the death toll over 31,000. The new cases on Tuesday eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week.

Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. The increase comes after Iranians packed cafes and restaurants at vacation spots during recent national holidays and the re-opening of schools last month.

The government closed museums, libraries, beauty salons, schools and universities in Tehran earlier this month and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.

Iran officials have resisted a total lockdown because they don’t want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.

2 p.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to local health guidelines when considering how to celebrate Halloween next week.

The question of how to handle the spooky evening is top of mind for many parents who are trying to assess a patchwork of regional health advice, guidance and stern warnings against trick-or-treating.

Health authorities in Ontario have advised against it in the hot spots of Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa.

But Quebec Premier François Legault has said the pastime can go ahead if participants wear face masks and head out with family rather than friends, even though the province is Canada’s viral epicentre.

Trudeau acknowledged the difficulty involved in forgoing Halloween.

“We know that it’s not easy, and it’s frustrating,” he said Tuesday. “Unfortunately all of us are having to make sacrifices of different types, particularly kids.”

The Trudeau family lives in Ottawa, which has a Stage 2 designation, so the prime minister said his children are staying home.

“Listening to public health officials means that my family will not be going trick-or-treating this year, because in Ottawa and in Ontario in red zones like Ottawa they are not encouraging or not recommending trick-or-treating, and therefore we won’t be,” he said.

“A friend of mine suggested that maybe we could do an Easter-style treasure hunt for candy throughout the house and yard, and that’s something that we’re also reflecting on,” Trudeau said.

“I think families will be creative in how they respond to giving their kids as fun a holiday as we can while always listening to public health officials and respecting local guidelines.”

In a message aimed partly at young people, the country’s top physician encouraged Canadians who use TikTok, Instagram and other social media to spread the word about healthy habits in order to keep the coronavirus “on a slow burn.”

“As each part of the country is experiencing the pandemic differently, people may be facing uncertainty about what action is needed to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

1:35 p.m.: Manitoba is reporting 109 new COVID-19 cases, with 88 of them in Winnipeg.

Health officials are also reporting outbreaks at one school and three long-term care homes in the city.

The greater Winnipeg region has been under stricter health orders, including mandatory mask use in public indoor areas, after numbers started climbing last month.

1:24 p.m. Ontario reported an increase of more than 100 COVID-19 cases with 821 new infections Tuesday and is allowing dance studios in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa to re-open.

Owners of dance studios had been pushing for change since the four hot zones went into modified Stage 2 restrictions, and a government review determined they are at less risk of transmission than gyms and fitness centres also closed in addition to indoor dining at bars, restaurants and food courts.

“They informed us that they were able to keep enough distance, that they were able to do that in a safe way,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said of dance studios.

“I know it is really difficult for some business owners to understand why they can’t be open,” added Elliott, who acknowledged “We’re still having conversations with other groups.”

Read the full story by Rob Ferguson

12:30 p.m. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the world’s largest cinema chain, agreed to sell as many as 15 million shares of its stock while warning investors that it may need to file for bankruptcy, leaving its equity worthless.

AMC, contending with a liquidity crisis that threatens its ability to remain a going concern, said the equity distribution plan might not be enough. With $417.9 million (U.S.) in cash on hand, the company still needs a material amount of new funding by the end of the year to stay in business, it said in a filing Tuesday.

If AMC is unable to raise enough cash to meet its obligations, the company said it would file for bankruptcy or seek an out-of-court restructuring of its debts.

12:19 p.m.: The country is again being pushed to the brink of an election, over a demand by the Opposition Conservatives that a committee be set up to probe allegations of the misuse of public funds on COVID-19 relief programs.

The Liberals declared Tuesday that the vote on the Tories’ motion to create the committee will be a confidence matter, saying that if the opposition parties unite to pass it, that effectively means the House of Commons has lost faith in the government.

The Bloc Québécois moved swiftly to call the Liberals’ bluff, accusing them of theatrics and saying they will vote with the Conservatives to force the creation of the committee.

Canadians want answers and if that requires an election, it will be the fault of the Liberals, said Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet.

“It’s their choice, it’s their fault, they are doing it,” he told the House of Commons as debate on the motion got underway.

11:05 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 821 new cases of COVID-19, and three new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 327 cases are in Toronto, 136 in Peel Region, 79 in Ottawa, and 64 in York Region.

The province says it has a backlog of 24,129 tests, and has conducted 24,049 tests since the last daily report.

In total, 274 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19.

11:05 a.m.: The number of new COVID-19 cases in public schools across the province has jumped by 121 from the previous day, to a total of 793 in the last two weeks.

In its latest data released Tuesday morning, the province reported 75 more students were infected for a total of 461 in the last two weeks; since school began there have been overall total of 810.

The data shows there are 22 more staff members for a total of 117 in the last two weeks — and an overall total of 223.

The latest report also shows 24 more individuals who weren’t identified for a total of 215 in that category — and an overall total of 396.

Read more from the Star’s Irelyne Lavery.

11 a.m.: In response to Monday’s recommendation to call off trick-or-treating this year, Brampton mayor Patrick Brown says he’s disappointed some elements of the night couldn’t be salvaged with creative health protocols, such as contactless candy collection.

“I wish it was different,” Brown said, adding he’s thinking up creative ways to salvage some of the fun, including the hosting of virtual contests for best costume.

“Ultimately, we have to listen to the advice of public health.”

Meanwhile, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said youngsters and their families will have to celebrate Halloween differently in COVID-19 hotspots like Peel, because not going door-to-door “is the best way to keep our city healthy and safe and reduce the spread of this virus.”

11 a.m.: Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

Dr. Heather Morrison, the chief public health officer, says the case involves a woman in her 20s who is a rotational worker and who travelled outside of the Atlantic bubble.

There are currently three active cases on the Island.

Since the pandemic began, P.E.I. has seen a total of 64 cases and all have been travel related.

10:40 a.m. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he’s willing to change the name and mandate of a proposed committee to probe COVID-19 relief programs to make it clear his party doesn’t want to force an election.

The Liberals have said that in pushing for an “anticorruption committee,” the Tories are effectively saying they’ve lost confidence in the government, so the vote on setting it up ought to be one of confidence.

That means if the Tories get the support of the Bloc Québécois and NDP for the motion, they could topple the government.

O’Toole says the Liberals’ approach is nonsense and Canadians should be concerned if the Liberals would rather send them to the polls than answer what he called a “few simple questions.”

The stated point of the proposed committee is to take a deep look into three different COVID-19 relief programs, two with connections to longtime Liberals and one with an organization with close links to the party and to the Trudeau family.

But O’Toole says he’s now talking to the NDP and Bloc to see if they can agree on a revised mandate for the committee, as well as a new name, that would erase the possibility of a confidence vote on the motion.

10:20 a.m. (will be updated) Ontario is reporting 821 cases of COVID-19. Locally, there are 327 new cases in Toronto, 136 in Peel, 64 in York Region and 79 in Ottawa. More than 24,000 tests were completed.

9:39 a.m. The British government and officials in Manchester, England’s second-largest city, were still talking Tuesday after a noon deadline passed for the city to agree to tighter coronavirus measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is struggling to impose his plan for localized restrictions on restive regions, spoke by phone to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on Tuesday afternoon, Johnson’s office said. The prime minister is expected to give an update on coronavirus restrictions later at a news conference.

Johnson’s government is resisting a recommendation from its scientific advisers to have a short “circuit-breaker” lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Instead it has adopted a three-tier system for England, with areas classed as medium, high or very high virus risk. In the top tier, pubs have to close and people are barred from mixing with members of other households.

So far only the Liverpool and Lancashire regions of northwest England have been placed in Tier 3, the highest level. Nearby Greater Manchester, with a population of almost 3 million, has been holding out for more support for workers and businesses affected by the restrictions.

“We’re trying to respond to a pandemic on the cheap, that’s how it feels,” Burnham said.

9:10 a.m. An employee at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Mississauga recently tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the Loblaws COVID-19 tracker, one employee at the Shoppers Simply Pharmacy at 3530 Derry Road tested positive on a presumptive test.

Management was notified of the case on Oct. 19 and the employee’s last day of work was on Oct. 13.

The company said once management is notified of a positive test result, the store undergoes a deep clean and sanitization.

9 a.m. In a seniors housing building in east-end Toronto, 69-year-old Maureen Clohessy has taped over her power outlets, hoping to keep bedbugs out of the bachelor unit she’s called home for three years.

Each day, she watches for the scuttling critters, her eyes scanning from her plugs to her ceiling in an apartment on the seventh floor. The building at 828 Kingston Road is known as Glen Stewart Acres, and it’s one of several senior-specific buildings operated by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

Like other community housing buildings in Toronto, Glen Stewart Acres has battled pests from bedbugs to rodents and cockroaches. The housing operator saw a leap of 17.4 per cent in demands for pest treatments across all their buildings last year. Clohessy’s building was supposed to be treated top-to-bottom this spring. But then the pandemic hit — and the process was put indefinitely on hold.

Read the full story from the Star’s Victoria Gibson

8:32 a.m. The rate of COVID-19 testing in the part of the city hit hardest by the virus is lagging behind other neighbourhoods, data newly posted by Toronto Public Health shows.

That data, released Monday and current to Oct. 4, shows that eight of the 10 neighbourhoods with the highest per cent positivity for COVID-19 are in the northwest part of the city, which reporting by the Star has shown to be most at-risk.

At the same time, all eight of those neighbourhoods had rates of testing below the average for neighbourhoods where there was data available.

On Monday, the city’s board of health called on the province to increase the availability and accessibility of pop-up testing in neighbourhoods disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said Monday that more testing is needed to “fully understand” what’s happening in those neighbourhoods. Testing is the responsibility of the province.

Read the full story by the Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro

8:30 a.m. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says three more patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

That brings the total number of cases at its 1-4 Unit in downtown Toronto up to five after two were announced on Sunday.

CAMH is one of three hospitals in Toronto with active outbreaks,

Toronto Western Hospital said on Sunday five staff and three patients in two of its units have tested positive.

St. Joseph’s Health Centre was reporting outbreaks in four units on Sunday.

The province says an outbreak is declared when two or more people test positive for the virus within 14 days who could have reasonably caught COVID-19 at the hospital.

8:10 a.m. Health Canada is recalling a product labelled a hand sanitizer but that it has determined is counterfeit.

The government department says a counterfeit version of the authorized Daily Shield hand sanitizer has been found for sale at a Dollarama store in Thunder Bay.

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Health Canada warns the false version may not be effective at killing bacteria and viruses, and may pose serious risks to health.

It also says that the unauthorized product is suspected to contain methanol, which is not authorized for use in hand sanitizers and could cause severe adverse reactions or death when ingested.

The counterfeit version is labelled with NPN 80098979, Lot 6942; Expiry May 2023 and is sold in a 250 mL format.

7:30 a.m. The number of passengers screened in a single day for flights in the U.S. topped one million for the first time since COVID-19 infections began to spike last March.

The notable milestone, reached Sunday, signifies both the progress made since the darkest days of pandemic for the devastated U.S. airline industry, when fewer than 100,000 people were screened per day in April, and how far it still has to go.

The million plus passengers screened Sunday compares with 2.6 million on the same day last year, or roughly 60% fewer, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA said that the 6.1 million passengers at U.S. checkpoints the week of Oct. 12 through Oct. 18 was the greatest volume measured since the start of the pandemic.

Vacation plans and business trips were frozen in the spring as millions took shelter. With so little known about the virus, few wanted to board planes or walk through an airport even if they could.

Airlines received $50 billion (U.S.) in cash and loans from Congress in March on the condition that they held off on layoffs at least through October. Airlines are now warning of mass layoffs while lobbying Congress and the White House for another $25 billion (U.S.) to pay workers for the next six months.

7:15 a.m. Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been withdrawn from the Giro d’Italia.

Gaviria and a staff member for Team AG2R La Mondiale were the only positives out of 492 tests carried out Sunday and Monday.

Gaviria’s UAE Team Emirates says the rider “was immediately isolated following the test result and is feeling well and is completely asymptomatic.”

The team notes that Gaviria also had COVID-19 in March.

Gaviria has won five stages at the Giro during his career.

Overall contenders Simon Yates and Steven Kruijswijk had already been withdrawn from the race after testing positive. Australian standout Michael Matthews also was withdrawn. The Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma teams withdrew their entire squads last week following a series of positive results from the first rest day.

7:10 a.m. Rugby Europe has suspended all internationals to the end of November, including the long-delayed last round of the men’s championship.

On Nov. 1 were scheduled Romania vs. Belgium and Georgia vs. Russia, and on Nov. 15 Spain vs. Portugal. They have been postponed since March.

Georgia has already retained the title, while Romania is in last place, which drops the occupier into a promotion-relegation match against the waiting Netherlands.

“Our players and our officials are mostly ‘amateurs,’” Rugby Europe president Octavian Morariu said on Tuesday. “We cannot expose them to the virus or to quarantine periods that would be problematic for them.”

5:53 a.m.: A number of fishing crew who flew into New Zealand on chartered planes have the coronavirus.

Health officials said Tuesday that 11 have tested positive so far and another 14 cases are being investigated.

The crew members have been in quarantine at a Christchurch hotel since they arrived, and tested positive during routine testing, officials said. The news could deal a blow to New Zealand’s efforts to restart its fishing industry, which has struggled to find local workers to crew vessels.

Jeremy Helson, the chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, said all the men tested negative before flying to New Zealand. “While we await to see how many cases there are, the fact that they were all detected in quarantine shows the system is working well,” Helson said in a statement.

The origin of the infected crew members wasn’t immediately clear, although a number of fishing crew have been arriving in New Zealand in recent days from Russia and Ukraine.

New Zealand has managed to stamp out community spread of the virus.

5:51 a.m.: Near the end of September, with coronavirus cases falling and more schools and businesses reopening, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration urged restraint, citing a statistical model that predicted a startling 89-per-cent increase in virus hospitalizations in the next month.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, state data shows hospitalizations have fallen by about 15 per cent since that warning while the weekly average number of new cases continues to decline even as other more populous states like Florida, Ohio and Illinois see increases.

California’s good news isn’t enough to change what Newsom calls his “slow” and “stubborn” approach to reopening the world’s fifth-largest economy. He again cautioned people against “being overly exuberant” about those coronavirus numbers, pointing to a “decline in the rate of decline” of hospitalizations.

5:50 a.m.: A Cabinet minister says Pakistan has witnessed a 140 per-cent increase in fatalities from COVID-19 in recent weeks due to widespread violations of social distancing rules.

Asad Umar, the planning and development minister who oversees Pakistan’s response to coronavirus, warned on Twitter “We will lose both lives and livelihoods” if people did not adhere to social distancing rules.

His comments Tuesday came shortly after the military-backed Command and Operations Center reported 14 deaths and 625 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned on Monday that Pakistan’s big cities could face a second wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks because of increasing pollution in winter. Pakistan has reported 324,084 cases, including 6,673 COVID-19 deaths.

5:49 a.m.: As Argentina passed 1 million virus cases Monday, it is now smaller cities like Ushuaia that are seeing some of the most notable upticks. Doctors have had to quadruple the number of beds for COVID-19 patients over the last month. At least 60 per cent of those tested recently are coming back positive for the virus.

“We were the example of the country,” said Dr. Carlos Guglielmi, director of the Ushuaia Regional Hospital. “Evidently someone arrived with the coronavirus.”

Across Latin America, three other nations are expected to reach the 1 million case milestone in the coming weeks — Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The grim mark comes as Latin America continues to register some of the world’s highest daily case counts. And though some nations have seen important declines, overall there has been little relief, with cases dropping in one municipality only to escalate in another.

The trajectory is showing that the pandemic is likely to leave no corner of Latin America unscathed.

5:44 a.m.: Canadians continue to experience mental health difficulties due to the pandemic, with one in four saying their stress level is higher than during the first COVID-19 wave, according to a new poll.

The online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that only 19 per cent of Canadians say their mental health is better now than in March and April as infection rates tick up and autumn sets in.

However, about 54 per cent said their mental state is about the same as when the coronavirus first struck the country.

Participants cited concerns about the length and severity of the pandemic as their biggest source of anxiety, followed closely by social isolation and family health.

“If we cannot see extended family during the holidays and rekindle that positive energy that we get from family and friends, it might lead to a long winter,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

“It’s almost like, when is this thing going to end?”

Read the full story from the Canadian Press here.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Oct. 20, 2020:

There are 200,939 confirmed cases in Canada.

-Quebec: 94,429 confirmed (including 6,044 deaths, 79,529 resolved)

-Ontario: 65,075 confirmed (including 3,050 deaths, 55,978 resolved)

-Alberta: 22,673 confirmed (including 292 deaths, 19,243 resolved)

-British Columbia: 11,687 confirmed (including 253 deaths, 9,753 resolved)

-Manitoba: 3,382 confirmed (including 42 deaths, 1,597 resolved)

-Saskatchewan: 2,396 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,973 resolved)

-Nova Scotia: 1,097 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,026 resolved)

-New Brunswick: 313 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 207 resolved)

-Newfoundland and Labrador: 287 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 272 resolved)

-Prince Edward Island: 63 confirmed (including 60 resolved)

-Yukon: 17 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

-Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

-Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive

-Nunavut: No confirmed cases

Total: 201,440 (3 presumptive, 201,437 confirmed including 9,778 deaths, 169,671 resolved)

Monday 6:35 p.m.: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at its Queen Street West site, with five patients testing positive for the virus. It is the first outbreak at Canada’s largest mental health hospital since April.

Two patients were said to have COVID-19 on Sunday. By Monday at 5 p.m., CAMH updated their website to reveal three more patients had tested positive, bringing the total to five current patients with the virus.

The new outbreak brings the number of patients who have tested positive for the virus at CAMH to 29 since the pandemic began. Nineteen have since recovered and three were discharged.

Read the full story from Nadine Yousif here.



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Morales party claims win as Bolivia shifts back to left – World News

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Bolivia appeared Monday to be shifting sharply away from the conservative policies of the U.S.-backed interim government that took power last year after leftist President Evo Morales resigned, with the self-exiled leader’s party claiming victory in a weekend presidential election.

The leading rival of Morales’s handpicked successor, Luis Arce, conceded defeat as did interim President Jeanine Áñez, a bitter foe of Morales.

Officials released no formal, comprehensive quick count of results from Sunday’s vote, but two independent surveys of selected polling places gave Arce a lead of roughly 20 percentage points over his closest rival — far more than needed to avoid a runoff.

Áñez asked Arce “to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind.”

Arce, meanwhile, appealed for calm in the bitterly divided nation saying he would seek to form a government of national unity under his Movement Toward Socialism party.

“I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” Arce declared, surrounded by a small group of supporters, some of them in traditional Andean dress in honour of the country’s Indigenous roots.

To win in the first round, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, or 40% with a lead of at least 10 percentage points over the second-place candidate. The independent counts, sponsored by the Catholic Church and civic groups, indicated Arce had a little over 50% of the vote and a roughly 20-point advantage over centrist former President Carlos Mesa, who acknowledged defeat.

The formal official count showed Arce and Mesa in a close race for much of Monday, but by the night Arce was pulling away. With about 40% of ballots counted, Arce had over 45% and Mesa had about 35%. The early counted votes appeared to be largely from urban areas rather than the rural heartlands that have been the base of support for Morales and his movement. Officials said final results could take days.

Arce, who oversaw a surge in growth and a sharp reduction in poverty as Morales’ economy minister for more than a decade, will struggle to reignite that growth. The boom in prices for Bolivia’s mineral exports that helped feed that progress has faded, and the new coronavirus has hit impoverished, landlocked Bolivia harder than almost any other country on a per capita basis. Nearly 8,400 of its 11.6 million people have died of COVID-19.

Arce, 57, also faces the challenge of emerging from the long shadow of his former boss, who remains polarizing but whose support enabled the low-key, British-educated economist to mount a strong campaign.

Áñez’s government tried to overturn many of Morales’ policies and wrench the country away from its leftist alliances. Newly installed electoral authorities barred Morales from running in Sunday’s election, even for a seat in congress, and he faces prosecution on what are seen as trumped-up charges of terrorism if he returns home.

Morales, who turns 61 this month, said at a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Monday that he plans to return to Bolivia, though he did not say when.

Like Arce, he took a conciliatory tone and called for “a great meeting of reconciliation for reconstruction.”

“We are not vengeful,” he said.

He declined to say if he would have a role in the government. But few expect the sometimes-irascible politician — Bolivia’s first Indigenous president — to sit by idly.

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