The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a chain reaction unlike anything Toronto has seen before. As of Friday afternoon, there are 41 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Toronto (up from 29 yesterday). People across the city are flocking to grocery stores to stock up on supplies, large-scale gatherings are being cancelled across the country, high-profile politicians are going into self-isolation and many schools are shutting down and going online.
To keep you informed as the situation develops, we will continue to bring you a daily roundup of coronavirus updates from across Toronto and the country.
Trudeau considers closing border
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an interview with Radio-Canada’s Montreal morning show on Friday to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak. When asked if the government is looking into closing the Canadian border, Trudeau said: “We’re in the midst of evaluating day-to-day what to do.”
“As you’ve seen, there are recommendations not to travel outside of Canada. We’re in the midst of coordinating with the Americans, obviously, on our borders, on our actions,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate what we can do and how we can keep Canadians in security and we won’t close the door on any idea.”
Our neighbours to the south have banned travellers from most parts of Europe after U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Trudeau is recommending that Canadians do not travel internationally in the current climate.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tests positive
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has tested positive for COVID-19. The Prime Minister’s wife will remain in isolation for the time being. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not exhibiting any symptoms, he will also remain in 14-day isolation as a precaution.
I am feeling fine & I’m not exhibiting any symptoms of the virus, but I will also be following the advice of our doctor and I will continue to self-isolate for now. During that time, as I did today, I’ll continue to work from home and conduct meetings via video & teleconference.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 13, 2020
In the meantime, Canada’s Prime Minister is housebound like the rest of us:
Busy day ahead, working from home. Meetings with my cabinet, the country’s premiers, national Indigenous leaders, and more. Staying focused on you. Talk soon. pic.twitter.com/xhAuxscf6N
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 13, 2020
Sunnybrook team celebrates COVID-19 breakthrough
Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital announced a major COVID-19 breakthrough late yesterday.
A team of researchers from Sunnybrook, McMaster University and the University of Toronto isolated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
Read more on their breakthrough here.
Universities and colleges move courses online
York University, Ryerson, the University of Toronto, Seneca College and George Brown have all made announcements that they will be moving courses online, starting Monday of next week. The announcements came after a great deal of pressure from the student population to follow suit and stop in-person classes and lectures on campuses.
Beginning Monday, March 16 all #YorkU classes will move to online formats in response to COVID-19. As of midnight tonight all non-essential events will be cancelled or postponed. Read the full statement from President Rhonda Lenton: https://t.co/VELCkNdEGd pic.twitter.com/anqoFiaqC8
— York University (@yorkuniversity) March 13, 2020
Grocery store panic hits
Loblaws and No Frills were trending on Twitter last night, as thousands across Toronto hit grocery stores to stock up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other supplies. Line-ups extended out of some stores and toilet paper and hand sanitizer were in short supply.
Line up for the cashes at Loblaws College Square. pic.twitter.com/vSPlauwxJl
— Mike Fitzgerald (@UncleMike613) March 12, 2020
NDP’s Jagmeet Singh self-isolates
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has also gone into self-isolation. While he says doctors believe his symptoms are not typical of those seen in COVID-19 patients, he is airing on the side of caution and remaining indoors for the time being.
Friends, I am at home today, feeling unwell.
I have been in contact with a doctor and they do not believe I have symptoms consistent with COVID19. But their advice is for me to limit contact with the public until I am feeling better.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) March 12, 2020
House of Commons adjourns
With both Trudeau and Singh in isolation, Parliament has also decided to shut down amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Canada’s House of Commons has been temporarily adjourned for the next five weeks, with a plan to resume as usual by April 20.
To protect the health and safety of Canadians, the House of Commons is adjourned until April 20th. To Canadians concerned for their parents, for a friend, for a loved one, we are all united. We will face this together, and we will get through this together. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/srW6MMWjXE
— Pablo Rodriguez (@pablorodriguez) March 13, 2020
Public and private schools close
The Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board will be closing schools starting Monday, March 16 and will remain closed after the March Break until April 5 amid growing concerns about the coronavirus. Private schools such as Crescent School and Havergal College will also remain closed for two weeks following the March Break to ensure the health and safety of students.
We have just learned that all Ontario schools, including those at the TDSB, have been ordered to close from March 14 to April 5 amid ongoing concerns about Coronavirus. We will be sharing additional details once we receive them.
— Toronto District School Board (@tdsb) March 12, 2020
Mirvish remains open
Mirvish productions issued a statement Thursday saying their performances will continue as scheduled. “We take our lead from Toronto Public Health, who are in constant consultation with their federal and provincial counterparts. At this time TPH has stated there is no community spread in Toronto,” the statement reads. They will continue to evaluate the situation and are relaxing policies about ticket exchanges, credits and refunds.
— Mirvish Productions (@Mirvish) March 12, 2020
Major attractions close
Major attractions in the city are also closing down, to put the health and safety of people across Toronto first. The CN Tower will be closed as of Saturday, March 14 with plans to re-open on Tuesday, April 14. Malls are also taking action during the coronavirus outbreak. Sherway Gardens closed down their Fossil store on Thursday after an employee was tested positive for COVID-19.
For Thursday’s coronavirus updates, click here. For a map tracking all coronavirus cases in Toronto, click here. For coronavirus questions answered by the head of North York General Hospital, click here.