Medical personnel transport a deceased patient from a refrigerated truck to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Centre on April 8, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. — AFP/VNA Photo
WASHINGTON — The United States recorded 1,920 deaths related to the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 8:30 pm on Saturday.
The number of fatalities was lower than the previous day's record toll of 2,108.
The outbreak has now claimed the lives of at least 20,506 people in the US, the most of any country.
The US also leads the world in the number of confirmed infections, with 527,111 by the Baltimore-based school's count.
At the same time, Canada's lower house of parliament passed a wage subsidy program on Saturday heralded as the largest economic measure in the country since World War II, to help businesses and their employees get through the coronavirus crisis.
The House of Commons is suspended but held an exceptional session in the middle of Easter weekend to adopt the Can$73 billion (US$52 billion) program, which aims to pay companies 75 per cent of their employees' salaries to avoid massive layoffs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the session. He had been in isolation in his home for a month after his wife contracted the virus.
Apart from leaders of the main parties, only about 30 MPs out of 338 sat in order to comply with social distancing orders.
The text still has to be passed by the Senate, in a vote expected later Saturday, to come into force.
Trudeau, referring to Canada's sacrifices in both world wars, stressed that the fight against the virus "is not a war," but "that doesn't make this fight any less destructive."
"The front line is everywhere, in our homes, in our hospitals and care centres, in our grocery stores and pharmacies, at our truck stops and gas stations.
"And the people who work in these places are our modern day heroes," he said.
This was the second financial assistance bill proposed by Trudeau's government since the beginning of the crisis.
Its purpose is to "enable Canadians to keep their jobs and get a paycheck," the prime minister said, adding it is "the largest Canadian economic policy since World War II."
The 75 per cent wage subsidy, which is for three months and retroactive to March 15, is for businesses that have suffered or will suffer a 15 per cent drop in revenues in March or 30 percent in April and May, finance minister Bill Morneau said.
The Canadian economy lost more than one million jobs last month. Canada had 23,197 cases of coronavirus and 678 deaths due to the disease as of Saturday.
Social isolation for elderly may last longer: EU chief
Elderly people may have to be kept isolated until the end of the year to protect them from the coronavirus, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in comments published on Sunday.
"Without a vaccine, we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly," she told the Germany daily Bild.
"I know it's difficult and that isolation is a burden, but it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient," she added.
"Children and young people will enjoy more freedom of movement earlier than elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions," she said.
She said she hoped that a European laboratory will develop a vaccine towards the end of the year.
To ensure that people can be quickly vaccinated, authorities are already in talks with producers on gearing up for world production, she added. — AFP