POLITICS INSIDER

Boris Johnson is the first world leader to fight the coronavirus in an ICU

Politics Insider for April 7: Today is CERB application for April, May and June babies, Tam gives a thumb's up on mask-wearing and cruise ships are still sailing

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A world leader’s struggle with the coronavirus has sent him into intensive care. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who only last Friday tweeted a video message in which he said a lingering fever was his last remaining symptom, was in London’s St Thomas Hospital by Sunday—and taken to the ICU yesterday after his condition “worsened.” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has taken over some of Johnson’s duties.

The federal government is staggering Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications throughout the week according to applicants’ birth months. If you were born in April, May or June, today is your turn to apply for the CERB. (Anyone can apply on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.)

America First: Ontario Premier Doug Ford told CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan that Americans had, on Sunday night, stopped millions of 3M-produced N95 masks from crossing the border into Canada. Yesterday, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he “expected” critical medical equipments would keep flowing into Canada, word came that 500,000 3M masks had indeed made it north. It took a few hours, thanks to some communications snafus at Queen’s Park, to figure out how much protective equipment was stopped. Global News followed the saga.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne met yesterday morning with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A “readout” of that call, carefully scrubbed of provocative language, said all the typical things about critical cross-border supply chains.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail reports that Huawei, still looking to gain an edge as Canada eventually builds out its fifth-generation mobile network, is donating millions of masks to Canada. A small portion are N95 masks so critical to protecting health workers.

In yesterday’s daily presser, the PM marked the two-year anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.  He also shouted out a Canadian Chamber of Commerce initiative, the Canadian Business Resilience Network, meant to help its members survive the crisis. The chamber is also teaming up with Statistics Canada to launch the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions, touted as one of the “largest crowdsourced business intelligence surveys in Canadian history”—and built on a network of 200,000 businesses. (You can read the full transcript of Trudeau’s remarks here.)

What’s the official word on mask-wearing? For weeks, an unsettled question has bugged a lot of Canadians who want to play their part in fighting the coronavirus. Should they wear a mask or not? Other countries do it. Should Canadians? Stephen Maher explored that question last week, but federal officials weren’t yet onboard. That changed yesterday.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, had long advised against mask-wearing and cited a lack of evidence they do much to help anybody. She also said people, aided by a false sense of security, might touch a mask with infected droplets and inadvertently touch their face. Yesterday, Tam weighed in with an endorsement of masks: “Wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you,” she said. “A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces.” DIY masks, then, are fine to wear—they may not protect you from others, but they could protect others from you.

Google knows who’s social distancing: We can’t fool a global search giant that tracks the location of our mobile devices. Philippe J. Fournier analyzed North American trends for Maclean’s and found that Ontario and Quebec, two of the provinces struggling the most against COVID-19, had reduced “retail and recreational” mobility more than almost any other province or state (Quebec mobility dropped 70 per cent; in Ontario, that number was 59 per cent). South of the border, northeastern and midwestern states had collectively cut similar travel the most. Nova Scotia, at 33 per cent, was third from the bottom. Arkansas, where mobility fell by only 29 per cent, placed last.

The feds are monitoring 49 Canadian passengers and eight Canadian crew on seven cruise ships still sailing the high seas. The Costa Deliziosa is en route from Oman to the Suez Canal. MSC Magnifica yesterday left Colombo, Sri Lanka—also bound for the Suez. Albatros is coming to the end of a long round-the-world journey from Indonesia to its German home port of Bremerhaven.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has a new judge, Giulia B. Gambacorta, appointed yesterday by Justice Minister David Lametti. Gambacorta’s résumé is what you might expect: a Crown attorney who left to start her own practice in 2016, served as an agent for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and taught at Osgoode Hall Law School. You might recall one of her former clients: the Hamilton judge, Bernd Zabel, who wore a MAGA hat the day after Trump’s election.