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Partisan divisions on COVID-19 exist in Canada but they're deeper - and more dangerous - in the U.S.
In response to a reporter's question on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford passed on a chance to take a shot at the federal government over the carbon tax - and instead thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his pandemic measures and called Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland "an absolute champion."Physical distancing may be keeping people apart to keep the novel coronavirus at bay, but in Canada some partisan divisions seem to be eroding as politicians of all stripes work together to fight the pandemic.Those divisions haven't gone away entirely, of course. Polls suggest that Liberal voters are much more likely than Conservative voters to approve of how Trudeau has handled the pandemic.But the split isn't as stark as it has been on other issues in less challenging times. And the split is also significantly smaller here than it is between ideological opponents in the United States.On average, Trudeau and his government received 63 per cent public approval of their handling of the health emergency in three recent surveys by EKOS Research, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) and the Innovative Research Group (IRG).Among people who voted Liberal in the last election, or would vote for the party today, Trudeau and his government stood at 88 per cent approval. That's not an unusual level of approval for a political leader among supporters of his or her own party.Much less typical is the amount of support the federal government is getting for its management of the novel coronavirus outbreak among its political opponents. That support averaged 69 per cent among New Democrats, 45 per cent among Conservatives and 33 per cent among Bloc Québécois voters.So support for the federal government's performance is an average of 43 percentage points higher among Liberals than it is among Conservatives. The difference is 19 points for New Democrat supporters and 55 points for Bloc supporters.That margin between Liberals and Conservatives seems rather wide - until you put it in context. ARI's final pre-election poll last October found Liberals were more likely than Conservatives to say they had a favourable opinion of Trudeau by an 81-point margin.By comparison, partisanship is a far more significant source of division in the United States.Big partisan divide in the U.S. but not the U.K.Trump's job approval rating on the pandemic averaged 46 per cent in two recent polls by Pew Research and YouGov. Among Republicans, he averaged 83.5 per cent approval. Among Democrats, it was just 17.5 per cent.That puts the partisan division between Republicans and Democrats in the United States at 66 percentage points - greater than any partisan split in Canada.The size of that split stands out not only in comparison with Canada, but with other countries as well. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's job rating on the pandemic averaged 68.5 per cent in two recent polls by Opinium and Number Cruncher/Bloomberg.Among his own Conservative supporters, Johnson averaged 88.5 per cent. Among people who said they would vote Labour, the main opposition party in the U.K., his approval averaged 47.5 per cent. The margin between Conservative and Labour voters was 41 points - similar in size to the partisan division in Canada.With all three countries imposing restrictions on their citizens in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, these partisan divisions could affect how seriously people take these measures.The messaging coming from U.S. President Donald Trump on the outbreak has been inconsistent. He has tweeted that the country couldn't let "the cure be worse than the problem itself" and voiced the hope that life and commerce could return to normal by Easter. He reversed course over the weekend, leaving the physical distancing guidelines in place until the end of April.But the YouGov poll shows that Republicans had heard the earlier message loud and clear. They were nearly three times as likely as Democrats to say the threat posed by COVID-19 was being exaggerated and were half as likely to say they were "very worried."Just 16 per cent of Democrats said COVID-19 was as dangerous as, or less dangerous than, the seasonal flu. That number was 43 per cent among Republicans. (COVID-19 is more contagious and more deadly than the seasonal flu.)By double-digit margins, Americans who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election were less likely than those who voted for Hillary Clinton to say they were washing their hands more frequently or avoiding crowded public places.Partisanship less of a risk to public health in CanadaWhile this kind of partisan division is present in Canada, it does not appear to pose the same potential health risk.ARI found that Conservatives made up a disproportionate number of those who think the COVID-19 threat is overblown - but polling over time shows that those holding that opinion are making up less and less of the population. Overall, ARI found that Conservatives were just as likely as Liberals to say they were washing their hands more frequently, while the vast majority of them said they believe the outbreak poses a serious threat.EKOS found Conservatives were more likely than Liberals to say the federal government's measures haven't gone far enough - and were just as likely to say they had gone too far (for both Liberal and Conservative supporters, the percentage of those polled saying pandemic measures had overreached was less than six per cent).The widest partisan division in Canada - between Liberal and Bloc voters - has even fewer health implications. ARI found no difference at all between how seriously Liberal and Bloc voters are taking the threat or how they're changing their behaviour - and EKOS found Bloc supporters to be even less likely than Liberals to argue that the measures have gone too far.For the most part (and particularly when compared to our neighbours to the south) it seems that Canadians are not letting politics get much in the way of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The fact that formerly implacable foes like Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau can put their differences aside is perhaps the clearest sign of all.
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A top doctor explains why COVID-19 cases and deaths are relatively low in Hong Kong, despite its proximity to mainland China.
"This is as physically close as we’ve been in a couple of days ’cause we’ve just found each other revolting," said Bell in an Instagram Live with Katie Couric.
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(Bloomberg) -- Spain suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic, as European governments doubled down on efforts to maintain rigid lockdowns amid tentative signs that the infection rate is slowing.Italy and the Netherlands are discussing prolonging measures to limit personal contact, and German officials warned that it’s too soon to ease restrictions as things could still get worse.Alongside the battle for public health, wider implications of the crisis are starting to emerge. Concerns are growing about European unity as the financial cost of the shutdown risks deepening divisions between member nations.In a letter to euro-area finance ministers, Eurogroup President Mario Centeno warned that the bloc will emerge from the crisis with much higher debt levels, and government policy must take care to prevent this from fragmenting the currency union.Total Spanish virus deaths rose by 849 to 8,189 in the past 24 hours, according to the latest Health Ministry data. The number of new cases increased by 9,222 -- the most in a single day -- to bring total confirmed infections in the country to 94,417.The Spanish government is betting that severe restrictions on public life at least through the Easter weekend will help curtail the spread of the disease, which has killed more people in Spain than in China where the pandemic started.On Europe’s eastern fringe, Romania is suffering a surge in fatalities after tens of thousands of its citizens returned from Italy and Spain, making it the worst-hit nation in central and eastern Europe. The death toll surged to 69 in the past 24 hours, with more than 2,100 people infected. That’s almost the combined number of deaths in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.The grim figures come after the World Health Organization called on governments to maintain containment measures, saying Europe’s curbs on movement are starting to have an effect.Mike Ryan, head of health emergencies at the WHO, said Monday that “our fervent hope” is that Italy and Spain -- the epicenters of the pandemic in Europe -- are approaching a peak. He urged countries to step up efforts to find and isolate patients.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government may extend restrictions through the May 1 holiday weekend, with a gradual opening of the country from May 4, local media reported.New infections in Italy, which has the most cases after the U.S., totaled 4,050, compared with 5,217 the previous day, civil protection authorities said late Monday. This was the lowest increase since March 17. Fatalities from the disease rose by 812 compared with 756 on Sunday, bringing the total to 11,591.Even as Italy reported the smallest number of new coronavirus cases in almost two weeks, the country will extend current containment measures until at least Easter, Health Minister Roberto Speranza confirmed on Monday.Conte is also trying to stave off the risk of social unrest and his administration is preparing an emergency handout for workers trapped in Italy’s underground economy.The prime minister is expected to host a cabinet meeting on Wednesday or Thursday to approve a new request to parliament for a wider budget deficit, paving the way for a second stimulus package worth at least 30 billion euros ($33 billion), according to officials who asked not to be named discussing administration strategy. Italy’s initial package was worth 25 billion euros.Austria faces economic costs of 0.53% of annual output for every week of full lockdown measures, according to the country’s central bank. In a “moderate” scenario -- some measures will be relaxed as soon as mid-April and gradually expire by the end of May -- the crisis will lead to a contraction of 3.2% this year.In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government is expected to extend measures including school and restaurant closures beyond April 6, according to local media. On Monday, the rate of new confirmed cases rose by 8% to 11,750, the lowest daily increase since the first case was reported at the end of February.The premier of the southern German state of Bavaria said earlier Tuesday it’s too early to consider easing containment measures as the situation remains “very, very serious.”“We are detecting a very, very slight flattening of this exponential curve, the infection numbers are declining somewhat,” Markus Soeder, whose state has the most confirmed cases in the country, told ARD TV. “But whether that’s a lasting trend remains to be seen.”The impact on Europe’s largest economy is becoming more evident. German companies filed almost half a million applications for financial aid under a government support program in March, the Federal Labor Agency said.The head of Germany’s public health authority said he expects the pandemic to continue for several more months and the nation’s death rate -- a relatively low 0.8% -- to rise. Carmakers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG and sports-apparel maker Puma SE are among those planning to idle tens of thousands of staff.(Updates with Romanian figures, German aid)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.