Hong Kong protests gain steam amid outbreak; China set to hold annual meeting delayed by coronavirus

Encouraging signs face the Eatonville Care Centre that has been hit hard by COVID-19 in Toronto.

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The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

5:25 a.m.: China, in a step toward returning to business as normal, announced Wednesday that its previously postponed national legislature session would be held in late May.

The National People’s Congress, delayed from early March because of the coronavirus outbreak, will start on May 22, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the 3,000 or so delegates would come to Beijing for what is the biggest political meeting of the year, or if it would be held virtually through video conferencing.

5:20 a.m.: Demonstrators chanted pro-democracy slogans in a luxury mall in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the latest in a string of small but determined protests as the city’s coronavirus outbreak slows.

More than 100 protesters gathered at lunchtime in the Landmark Atrium mall in Central, a prestigious business and retail district, despite social distancing rules that prohibit public gatherings of more than four.

“The protests had calmed down previously because of the coronavirus, but now we must step up and let the world know that we have not given up,” said Mich Chan, who works in the legal industry. “We’re still fighting for what we fought for last year.”

5:15 a.m.: Officials in Thailand’s capital say they’re preparing to ease restrictions that were imposed to fight the coronavirus. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said Wednesday that plans call for the reopening of restaurants, markets, exercise venues, parks, hairdressers and barbers, clinics and nursing homes, animal hospitals and pet salons, and golf courses and driving ranges.

Restaurants will have to keep their seats at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart and practice a wide range of sanitary measures. Thailand has confirmed 2,947 cases, including 54 deaths.

4:15 a.m.: The House of Commons will be asked today to give rapid approval to legislation authorizing $9 billion in promised financial assistance for students facing bleak summer job prospects in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But whether the Trudeau government will get the unanimous consent needed to expedite the bill’s approval in a matter of hours today remained to be seen late Tuesday.

The government was continuing negotiations with opposition parties on details of the bill, which was shared with them on the weekend.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said his party wants changes that would ensure the legislation includes incentives for young people to take available jobs, rather than stay home and collect the emergency aid.

Tuesday 10:40 p.m.: Three staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at one of the emergency daycares opened by the City of Toronto to provide care for the children of essential workers. Two other staff and two children are awaiting test results.

The Jesse Ketchum Early Learning and Child Care Centre will be closed for the next two weeks, the city said in a statement Tuesday night.

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Tuesday 10:32 p.m.: An employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at a Loblaws in East York.

The employee of the Loblaws on 301 Moore Ave. last worked April 27, the company said Tuesday night. The store will undergo a deep cleaning and reopen for Wednesday.

Any staff who were believed to be exposed are also being asked to stay at home.

Read more of Tuesday’s coverage here.