COVID-19 Update March 18 2020

    With 655 confirmed and presumptive COVID 19 cases in Canada, B-C and Saskatchewan have become the latest provinces to declare states of emergency in the face of the global pandemic.

    B-C Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says it will better protect the public. He says the legislature will resume on Monday with a reduced number of members to pass legislation to ensure continuity of government and response to COVID-19.

    Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he will convene a special virtual council meeting on Thursday with an aim to gain support for the declaration of a local state of emergency during the COVID-19 outbreak. He says that measure would allow the city to take action against people who are hoarding as well as businesses that have remained open when they should be closed to prevent the spread of the disease.

    Saskatchewan has declared a provincial state of emergency to give it broader powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In Saskatchewan, fitness centres, casinos and bingo halls have been ordered to close until further notice.

    Newfoundland and Labrador have declared a public health emergency, making previous recommendations from the province's chief medical officer of health enforceable by law.

    The Northwest Territories' health minister has declared a public health emergency. Diane Thom says the declaration takes effect immediately and will stay in place until at least April 1.

    Nunavut's chief medical officer of health is asking anyone who has returned from outside the territory to self-isolate for 14 days. Dr. Michael Patterson says the request extends to people who were travelling in other parts of Canada.

    All three territories have now made the emergency declaration, although none have any confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    North American stock markets took another plunge with crude oil prices dropping more than 20 per cent. The dive tripped market circuit breakers, forcing a pause in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

    The T-S-X composite index closed down 963.46 points or 7.6 per cent. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed back a bit to close down 13 hundred and 88 points.

    The loonie lost 2.2 per cent, trading for 68.98 cents U-S and oil prices had another jaw-dropping skid yesterday, sending the price of U.S. crude oil below $21 a barrel for the first time since 2002.


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