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Securing medical supplies and TV doctors offering help; In The News for March 20


In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 20 ...

COVID-19 in Canada ...

OTTAWA — The federal government is expected to announce today additional efforts to secure supplies of needed medical equipment to cope with the rapidly multiplying cases of COVID-19 across Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted at new measures to come, including involving industry and the military in the production of ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear.

He said the federal government is also expediting access to test kits to determine whether individuals have been infected with the novel coronavirus and other medical devices.

Ottawa has been working in close collaboration with provinces and territories, who deliver health care, to determine where gaps exist in the system and to try to fill them before they become a significant problem.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says there has been no specific request for ventilators yet but the federal government is trying to pre-empt that by acquiring things that may be needed as the number of cases surge.

The cabinet committee on COVID-19 was to have been briefed about procurement of supplies by Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.


Also this ...

First responders across the country say they're putting measures in place to preserve their capacity to deal with emergencies as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

In Vancouver, Fire Chief Darrell Reid says the department is preparing to stop responding to medical calls unless they are urgent.

He says triaging calls will help preserve the fire department's capacity to respond to major fires and other emergencies.

In Halifax, Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum says dispatchers are not sending firefighters to COVID-19 calls.

While they typically go out in teams of four, he says only two firefighters will work on a patient in the case of a medical call now.

And he says firefighters are equipped with protective gear and a screening tool kit to help them identify potential COVID-19 cases.

The RCMP says the novel coronavirus has not affected how police respond to emergencies. However, some detachments are closing counter service and other activities in their offices, in consultation with local authorities.


COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's governor has issued stay-at-home orders for 40 million people in the most sweeping move of any state yet to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With half the state already under local stay-home requirements, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a statewide order, warning that unless the rise in cases of COVID-19 slows, it might overwhelm the state's medical system.

Newsom says people will be able to shop for food and seek medical care, but should practice social distancing.

In a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, Newsom said the virus eventually could infect more than half the state's population.


COVID-19 around the world ...

ROME — Italy's deaths from the coronavirus pandemic eclipsed China's on Thursday as the scourge extended its march across the West.

The virus also has infected at least one European head of state — Monaco's 62-year-old Prince Albert II, who continued to work from his office. And it appeared to be opening an alarming new front in Africa, where health care in many countries is already in sorry shape.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world is "at war with a virus" and warned that "a global recession, perhaps of record dimensions, is a near certainty."

"If we let the virus spread like wildfire, especially in the most vulnerable regions of the world, it would kill millions of people," he said.

Italy, with 60 million citizens, has recorded 3,405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China, a country with a population over 20 times larger.

As Italy reached its bleak milestone, China is seeing signs of hope. Wuhan, the city where the new virus emerged three months ago, had no new infections for a second day today, a sign its draconian lockdowns had worked.

Health authorities cited a variety of reasons for Italy's high toll, key among them is its large older population, who are particularly susceptible to serious complications from the virus. Italy has the world's second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead — 87 per cent — were over 70.


COVID-19 in entertainment ...

They may only play doctors on TV, but they're giving real-life help to hospitals that have taken a hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Fox TV medical series "The Resident" has donated some of its on-set masks and gowns to a hospital in Atlanta, where it shoots, and the ABC show "The Good Doctor" is moving to do the same in its home base of Vancouver.

Representatives of "The Good Doctor" say they were in talks with government officials in Vancouver about what is needed at hospitals there.

Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who is a producer on the show and appeared in several episodes last year, says he has tested positive for it.

Kim said in an Instagram video from his house in Hawaii that while flying home from a shoot in New York — where he was playing a doctor helping with a flu pandemic — he noticed an itch in his throat, followed by a tightness in his chest and body aches that prompted him to get tested.

Kim says he was not hospitalized, and began feeling better within a few days.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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