Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 170 new COVID-19 cases, one additional death; Quebec to issue fines if masks not worn; Massive parties in Kingston spark concern

KEY FACTS

  • 9 a.m. Quebecers subject to a fine over breaking mask rules

  • 8:16 a.m. Transat A.T. Inc. reported loss for its latest quarter

  • 4:05 a.m.: Massive crowds and parties in Kingston drawing criticism

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

11:15 a.m.: Bob Woodward, facing widespread criticism for only now revealing President Donald Trump’s early concerns about the severity of the coronavirus, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he needed time to be sure that Trump’s private comments from February were accurate.

In Woodward’s upcoming book on Trump, “Rage,” the president is quoted saying the virus was highly contagious and “deadly stuff” at a time he was publicly dismissing it as no worse than the flu. Woodward, the celebrated Washington Post journalist and bestselling author, spoke with Trump more than a dozen times for his book.

“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward told the AP during a telephone interview. Using a famous phrase from the Watergate era, when Woodward’s reporting for the Post helped lead to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, Woodward said his mission was to determine, “What did he know and when did he know it?”

11 a.m.: Ontarians will soon be able to track any cases of COVID-19 in schools.

With millions of students already returning to classrooms for the first time in six months, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is set to unveil a new online tool to monitor coronavirus cases.

Similar to the tracking used in long-term-care homes since early in the pandemic, the forthcoming “dashboard” on the Ministry of Education website will give the public information about cases in schools.

It will disclose which schools have COVID-19 cases and whether students, teachers or support staff are infected.

“We will be reporting moving forward,” Ford told reporters Wednesday after a Mississauga meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault.

“This is our second day now going back to school. They’re rolling this out over the next week or two. But we’ll be reporting it,” he said.

Read the full story by the Star’s Robert Benzie

10:22 a.m. Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the quarantine system is “broken” because federal health officers are not charging people ignoring self-isolation orders for COVID-19.

Since the end of March, an emergency order under the federal Quarantine Act has required most people arriving from outside Canada to isolate themselves for 14 days, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Federal quarantine officers can lay charges with penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of $750,000, while police can issue tickets of up to $1,000.

Federal health officials say nobody has been arrested for ignoring a quarantine order, though one person was issued a summons to appear in court and 42 people have been ticketed by police.

Ford says Ontario police checks have uncovered 622 quarantine order scofflaws and is frustrated about the lack of federal charges.

A spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the rules are clear and there are enforcement procedures in place for those who break them.

10:09 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 170 cases of COVID-19 as the province completed nearly 25,000 tests. One more death was also reported. Twenty-eight public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 14 reporting no new cases. There are 55 new cases in Toronto, with 28 in York, 22 in Peel and 12 in Ottawa.

9:03 a.m. The coronavirus pandemic still figures to be soccer’s toughest opponent across Europe this season as England and Spain this weekend lead a wave of national leagues beginning a tightly packed schedule.

After a 2019-20 domestic season that stretched beyond one year in some countries, barely more than eight months are now free for the 38-game leagues. In late-May, UEFA takes over the fixture calendar for club competition finals and the delayed 2020 European Championship.

Most leagues across Europe defied doubts in the spring to emerge from a three-month shutdown and complete their seasons safely — albeit in empty stadiums that upended the soccer economy.

Now they must do it again while working with public authorities even more closely to bring fans back to games.

“They have understood that it is not over yet,” said Jacco Swart, managing director of the 29-nation European Leagues network. “They have to struggle and battle for this every day.”

9 a.m. (updated): Quebecers who flout rules requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces will be subject to a fine beginning on Saturday.

Premier Francois Legault says the vast majority of Quebecers have followed COVID-19 public health guidelines for the past six months.

But Legault told a news conference in Quebec City today some aren’t following the rules and are putting the province’s elderly and its health network at risk.

Legault says police will begin handing out fines to those not following the rules on public transit and in indoor public spaces where masks are mandatory.

The premier says the tightening of the rules will focus on so-called yellow zones — currently four regions outside of Montreal that have recently seen an increase in COVID cases.

Quebec introduced a four-level, colour-coded COVID-19 alert system Tuesday — green for vigilance, yellow for an early warning, orange for moderate alert and red for maximum alert.

8:58 a.m. Torontonians forgoing masks while socializing with people outside their social bubbles are increasingly getting COVID-19, helping to drive a virus resurgence that has alarmed city and health officials.

As well as dinner parties, bars and other indoor gatherings, the rapid rise in infections appears to be linked to Torontonians coming home from other parts of Canada, said Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health with Toronto Public Health (TPH).

Dubey made the remarks in response to questions from the Star after Toronto Mayor John Tory pleaded with residents Tuesday to avoid “crowd scenes,” including parties and bars, to prevent a possible return to lockdown.

Read the full story by the Star’s David Rider

8:16 a.m. Transat A.T. Inc. reported a loss for its latest quarter as it began the partial resumption of flights and tour operations.

The travel company says the quarter ended July 31 included one week of operations as it resumed flying on July 23 after shutting down April 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transat is flying to 11 European destinations in France, the United Kingdom and Portugal as well as to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is also running a domestic program linking Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

The company reported a net loss attributable to shareholders of $45.1 million or $1.20 per share for its most recent quarter compared with a loss of $1.5 million or four cents per share a year earlier, while revenue totalled $9.5 million, down from $698.9 million.

On an adjusted basis, Transat says it lost $3.70 per share for the quarter compared with an adjusted profit of 16 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Transat reached an agreement to be acquired by Air Canada last year, however the deal is still awaiting regulatory approval.

7:40 a.m. British Airways’ parent company said Thursday it will cut flights due to coronavirus travel restrictions and quarantine requirements and confirmed it is raising $3.2 billion (U.S.) through the sale of new shares.

International Airlines Group, which also owns the Spanish national carrier Iberia among others, said it will use the money to cope with the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Qatar Airways, which owns 25 per cent of IAG, has undertaken to take its share of the cash call.

IAG also said that short-haul bookings have fallen slightly following the implementation of new quarantine requirements by the U.K. and other European governments for travellers returning from specific countries, including Spain.

As a result, it said it is having to cancel some flights. Overall, it said that between October and December it expects to operate 60 per cent less capacity than during the same period last year, compared with a previously planned reduction of 46 per cent. Budget airline easyJet this week also said it was cutting flights.

Over the past few weeks, British tourists in particular have faced travel chaos after the government took countries off its safe list. The travel advice to the two most visited countries, Spain and France, changed at very short notice, prompting many travellers to seek to return to the U.K. swiftly to avoid a mandatory quarantine period. Earlier this week, seven Greek destinations were taken off the safe list. Further changes are anticipated later Thursday.

6:50 a.m.: The London hearing on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition from Britain to the United States was suspended Thursday because one of the lawyers may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ordered the proceedings adjourned until Monday while a lawyer representing the U.S. government is tested for the virus.

6:20 a.m.: AstraZeneca PLC’s chief executive said a COVID-19 into the trial subject will determine the timetable for vaccine progress. He said, though, that he still expects a set of data from the trials that can be presented to regulators for approval by the end of the year.

6:13 a.m.: In a year when the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped countless American rituals, even the commemoration of 9-11 could not escape unchanged.

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The 19th anniversary of the terror attacks will be marked by dueling ceremonies at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza and a corner near the World Trade Center, reflecting a divide over the memorial’s decision to suspend a cherished tradition of relatives reading victims’ names in person. Vice-President Mike Pence is expected at both those remembrances in New York, while President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden plan to attend a truncated ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.

6 a.m.: Popeyes’ much-hyped chicken sandwich will go on sale Canada-wide on Monday, after trial launches in Edmonton and southern Ontario earlier this year.

The sandwich made headlines for rapidly selling out after it was released in the U.S. last year.

Popeyes Canada general manager Rob Manuel says franchisees will add physical distancing stickers both inside and outside restaurants to better direct customers while complying with pandemic-related public health measures.

5:51 a.m.: Australia’s government has ramped up pressure on a state government to relax pandemic border restrictions after a woman was refused permission to attend her father’s funeral on Thursday and a dying dad was told he was only allowed to be visited by one of his four children.

Sarah Caisip, 26, was refused permission to go to her father’s funeral because she was forced to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine in the Queensland state capital of Brisbane in case she brought COVID-19 from her home in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.

Mark Keans, 39, is dying of cancer in a Brisbane hospital and has been told by Queensland health authorities that his family would have to choose which one of of his four children who live across the border in New South Wales can visit him, his sister Tamara Langborne said.

4:16 a.m.: A second fire in Greece’s notoriously overcrowded Moria refugee camp has destroyed nearly everything that had been spared in the original blaze, Greece’s migration ministry says, leaving thousands more people in need of emergency housing.

Early this morning, former residents of the country’s largest camp, which had been under coronavirus lockdown, returned to the area to pick through the charred remains of their belongings, salvaging what they could.

Many had spent the night sleeping in the open by the side of the road.

4:05 a.m.: Massive crowds and parties in an eastern Ontario university town have drawn criticisms from local residents and formal calls for greater co-operation to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Police and city officials in Kingston, Ont., said they’ve had to close a popular pier and beach due to crowding and issue a number of tickets since thousands of students flooded back into the city earlier this month. Local residents said they’ve also taken to the streets to break up parties in recent days.

4 a.m.: Parents keeping their children home from schools that offer limited or no remote learning options are concerned spots in speciality programs could be lost unless the British Columbia government takes action.

Students will be back at school Thursday but some will not return because of their own or a family member’s health or general fears about contracting COVID-19.4

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2020:

There are 134,293 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 64,056 confirmed (including 5,771 deaths, 56,400 resolved)

_ Ontario: 43,685 confirmed (including 2,813 deaths, 39,332 resolved)

_ Alberta: 15,191 confirmed (including 248 deaths, 13,358 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 6,691 confirmed (including 213 deaths, 5,086 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,670 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,587 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,365 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 945 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,018 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 55 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 134,293 (0 presumptive, 134,293 confirmed including 9,155 deaths, 118,254 resolved)

Read Wednesday’s rolling file.