The latest:

  • Pandemic will widen poverty gap between women and men, with informal workers worst hit in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, UN says.
  • Trudeau conducts virtual regional outreach as pandemic shuts down travel.
  • India’s total coronavirus cases pass 3.7 million as government eases pandemic restrictions.
  • German prosecutors say anti-lockdown protesters can be called “Covidiots” after complaints against politician.
  • Uzbekistan stages outdoor exams for 1.4 million university applicants.
  • Thailand hits 100 days with no local virus transmissions.
  • Ukraine reports record daily rise in coronavirus cases.
  • Steroids cut death rates among critically ill COVID-19 patients, studies suggest.

The coronavirus pandemic will widen the poverty gap between women and men, pushing 47 million more women and girls into impoverished lives by next year and undoing progress made in recent decades, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

More women than men worldwide will be made poor by the economic fallout and massive job losses caused by COVID-19, with informal workers worst hit in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, according to new UN estimates.

“The increases in women’s extreme poverty … are a stark indictment of deep flaws in the ways we have constructed our societies and economies,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of UN Women, said in a statement.

Samantha Murozoki, right, hands a free meal to a woman from her home in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, in May. With the help of volunteers, Murozoki served over 100 hot meals per day to families whose household income had been cut off during the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown. (Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)

During the pandemic, women have lost their jobs at a faster rate than men have, as they are more likely to be employed in the sectors hardest hit by long lockdowns such as retail, restaurants and hotels, the statement said.

Women are also more likely to work in the informal economy, typically in jobs as domestic workers and cleaners that often come with little or no health care, unemployment benefits or other protections.

“We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

According to the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO), about 70 per cent of domestic workers globally had lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 by June this year.

Overall, the pandemic will push an additional 96 million people into extreme poverty by next year, nearly half of whom are women and girls, according to estimates by UN Women and the UN’s Development Programme (UNDP).

This will bring the total number of women and girls worldwide living in extreme poverty to 435 million — defined as a person living on $1.90 US a day or less — and it is expected that this figure will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.

WATCH | Working mothers struggle for balance in pandemic:

There are fears the pandemic will undo decades of progress for working mothers as some say they had no choice but to stay home and tackle child care while juggling their own careers. 8:04

By 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women — a gap expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030, according to UN estimates.

Governments could adopt measures to help women in low-paid and informal jobs, said Achim Steiner, a UNDP administrator.

“More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers,” Steiner said.


What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 1:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 129,691 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 114,821 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,171.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic stop his usual practice of travelling to various regions of the country during the summer — he’s just doing it virtually this year.

The leader is spending much of Wednesday in meetings with British Columbia political, business, environmental and academic leaders, all from the comfort of his office in Ottawa. And he’ll do a similar virtual tour of the Atlantic provinces on Thursday.

WATCH | Montreal substitute teacher fears he will spread COVID-19: 

Montreal supply teacher Iain Childerhose says the prospect that he will transfer COVID-19 from one school to the next ‘makes me a little bit scared.’ 2:52

The summer is usually an opportunity for the prime minister and other federal political leaders to travel widely and engage in outreach with community leaders and voters outside the Ottawa bubble.

Among other things, Trudeau usually convenes a cabinet retreat and attends a Liberal caucus retreat outside the nation’s capital each year before Parliament resumes in the fall. He, his ministers and Liberal MPs use those events to fan out into the host communities, listen to local concerns, make some announcements and generally promote the government’s message.

But the need to curb the spread of COVID-19 has put the kibosh on much of that in-person travel this year.

In other developments, Health Canada is willing to consider approving home COVID-19 tests to screen for the virus, a spokesperson for the minister of health has told Reuters, in a win for public health experts and doctors who have argued that frequent and inexpensive testing could beat back the pandemic.

The health ministry had previously said it was concerned that people might misuse home tests or misinterpret the results.

“In response to the evolution of the pandemic, Health Canada is now considering applications for home testing devices for screening purposes,” Cole Davidson, spokesperson for the minister of health said in a statement.

WATCH | Respirologist on pros, cons of COVID-19 home testing kits:

Health Canada’s review of home testing kits for COVID-19 raises questions about when they’ll be useful and how accurate they are, says Toronto respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta. 4:16

In June of this year, Health Canada had indicated that it would not review applications for home test kits, as at that time, “the Department’s position was in relation to the use of home tests for diagnostic purposes,” the statement said.

Screening tests are meant to monitor large groups of seemingly healthy people for illness, while diagnostic tests investigate symptoms.

The change could allow for self collection, where samples are sent to a lab for processing, and spur the development of new tests to detect the virus at home.


Here’s what’s happening around the world

According to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 25.8 million. More than 858,000 people have died, while 17.1 million have recovered.

In Germany, prosecutors said Wednesday that anti-lockdown protesters and face-mask refusers can be called “Covidiots,” dismissing legal complaints against Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken who used the term on Twitter.

Prosecutors in Berlin, who had received hundreds of complaints accusing Esken of slander, said she was exercising her constitutional right to express her opinion. Esken’s party is the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative-led ruling coalition.

Police officers walk between unmasked protesters sitting on the ground at the end of a protest in Berlin on Aug. 1. Germany has seen mass protests in the past few weeks against measures imposed by authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Markus Schreiber/The Associated Press)

In an Aug. 1 tweet, Esken said protesters at a Berlin march threatened the health of others by violating physical distancing rules and ignoring requirements to wear face masks.

Ukraine registered a record 2,495 new coronavirus cases and 51 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Wednesday.

Ukraine has imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners entering the country until Sept. 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in cases.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said this week the government predicted the number of new coronavirus cases would continue to rise there in September and could reach 3,000 a day by the end of this month.

The country has so far reported a total of 125,798 infections and 2,656 deaths.

WATCH | How COVID-19 is complicating back-to-school in Russia: 

The CBC’s Chris Brown explains how COVID-19 is complicating the traditional back-to-school day in Russia known as ‘Knowledge Day.’ 4:01

Tens of thousands of youngsters headed to sports arenas across Uzbekistan on Wednesday to sit university entrance exams in the open air due to the pandemic.

The massive exercise, which will span two weeks, will see more than 1.4 million applicants take a three-hour test while seated at desks on the running tracks or walkways of the stadiums. They are competing for some 150,000 university places under a centralized admissions system.

Uzbek students take open-air university entrance exams in Tashkent on Wednesday. Uzbekistan said this week that courses at local universities would commence online rather than in person and schools would reopen on Sept. 14, two weeks later than usual. (Yuri Korsuntsev/AFP/Getty Images)

The Central Asian nation of 34 million has just ended its second national lockdown after a mid-summer surge in cases stretched its health-care system to the limit. The former Soviet republic has confirmed 42,370 COVID-19 cases with 324 deaths.

India registered 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total over 3.7 million as the government eases pandemic restrictions nationwide to help the battered economy.

India, a nation of 1.4 billion people, is fast becoming the world’s coronavirus epicentre. It has been reporting the highest daily increases in new cases for more than three weeks, and at its current rate is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States in total reported cases.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 1,045 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 66,333. It now has the third-most deaths after recently passing Mexico’s toll, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

A health official collects nasal and throat swab samples from a nun to test for the coronavirus at a primary health centre in Siliguri, India, on Wednesday. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

The country’s testing capacity of nearly 100,000 tests per day has been increasing, but experts say it is not enough. On Wednesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body, said the country had conducted nearly 44 million tests for the virus since the pandemic began.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday congratulated his citizens on the nation having achieved 100 days without a confirmed locally transmitted case of the coronavirus, even as security along the border with Myanmar is being stepped up as a measure against the disease.

Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case. But its economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry, and a drop in exports.

People visit the 18-metre-tall Buddha statue at the Wat Phra Yai Temple in Pattaya, Thailand, on Wednesday. Thailand’s economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry during the pandemic. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

Thai health authorities reported eight new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, all from abroad, bringing the country’s total to 3,425, including 58 deaths.

China’s aviation regulator said on Wednesday it will resume direct flights to Beijing from eight countries including Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, Greece, Denmark and Sweden from Sept. 3.

In March, Chinese authorities ordered all international flights to Beijing to be diverted to other airports as their first port of entry, as the capital stepped up measures to battle imported infections.

Elementary school students attend a class on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan, China’s central Hubei province, on Tuesday. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said load factors on such flights would be strictly controlled and it would reimpose measures to curb the virus if more than three passengers test positive for the coronavirus upon arrival.

Australia’s most-populous state reported the biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections in two weeks on Wednesday but said there were no plans to cancel New Year’s Eve fireworks show over Sydney Harbour, as new cases also ticked up nationally.

New South Wales (NSW) state reported 17 new cases, the biggest one-day jump since Aug. 12, while nationally the count rose to 109 cases from 85 a day earlier.

Victoria state remained the hardest-hit region with 90 cases, although this was well down from its daily peak of more than 700 in early August at the height of a second wave of infections. Victoria on Wednesday extended its state of emergency for another six months.

People sit apart from one another at Central Station in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday. Seventeen new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in New South Wales, where Sydney is located, in the past 24 hours. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was pushing ahead with plans to host large events such as the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour.

“We should be hosting events we’ve hosted before, but it will be different,” Berejiklian told reporters. “I think for a lot of people the fireworks represent hope.”

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