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Canada’s BC declares state of emergency as wildfires surge – Al Jazeera English

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Nearly 300 wildfires are actively burning across western province of British Columbia, which saw record heat last month.

The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has declared a state of emergency amid a surge in wildfires that have forced hundreds of people from their homes and could worsen in the coming days.

According to a provincial wildfire tracker, 299 blazes were actively burning across BC on Tuesday afternoon, including 18 that were sparked during the previous two days.

Mike Farnworth, BC’s minister of public safety, said during a news conference that more than 3,180 firefighters and other staff are fighting fires across the province.

He said more evacuations could be ordered as the weather forecast during the next few days may fuel the blazes. “We have reached a critical point,” Farnworth told reporters.

“Based on the advice of emergency management and wildfire officials, and my briefing last night on the worsening weather, I am declaring a provincial state of emergency. This will address the potential for a mass-evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to support evacuees.”

Kamloops, British Columbia, is seen under a blanket of smoke from nearby wildfires on July 15 [Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters]

The state of emergency will last for at least 14 days and can be extended, the BC government said in a statement. Forty evacuation orders affecting approximately 5,724 people are currently in place, while 69 evacuation alerts – under which residents are told to be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice – affecting more than 32,000 people have also been issued.

BC was among several provinces in Western Canada that saw record temperatures last month as a so-called “heat dome” trapped in hot air over the region.

Several wildfires were sparked at that time amid extremely dry conditions and a surge of lightning strikes. The village of Lytton, BC, was burned to the ground after a fast-moving blaze engulfed the community, killing two residents, just after it broke the country’s all-time heat record.

Officials said the heatwave contributed to hundreds of deaths in BC alone, particularly among vulnerable elderly people.

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced new measures aimed at preventing wildfires during periods of extreme heat.

In a statement on July 11, the federal transport department said railway operators would need to reduce the speed of trains when temperatures go beyond 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), as well as ensure trains are not running with combustible materials that could start a fire.

Brian Wiens, managing director at Canada Wildfire, a research consortium, told Al Jazeera this month that “very, very hot, dry weather is not unusual for late July into August in BC, in particular, and Alberta, as well”.

But the June heatwave was “stronger and earlier” than seen before, Wiens said.

He also said for temperatures to stay above the range deemed typical for an extended period of time was a “pretty strong indication that we’re seeing evidence of a shift in climate here”.

Many experts have pointed to climate change as a factor that has worsened extreme weather events such as wildfires, heatwaves and tropical storms.

The Western United States is also experiencing a surge in wildfires, with hundreds of firefighters deployed to try to get massive blazes in the states of Oregon and California under control.

The wildfires in the western US and Canada are sending smoke eastward, worsening air quality and causing colourful sunsets in some places.

More than 80 large wildfires in 13 western states charred nearly 1.3 million acres (526,090 hectares), an area larger than the state of Delaware, by Tuesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Tuesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Chinese authorities have announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan as an unusually wide series of COVID-19 outbreaks reached the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.

The provincial capital of 11 million people in central China is the latest city to undergo city-wide testing. Three cases were confirmed in Wuhan on Monday, its first non-imported cases in more than a year.

China has largely curbed COVID-19 at home after the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan and spread globally. Since then, authorities have tamped down and controlled the disease whenever it pops up with quick lockdowns and mass testing.

The current outbreaks are still in the hundreds of cases in total but have spread much more widely than previous ones. Many of the cases have been identified as the highly contagious delta variant.

The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 90 new cases had been confirmed the previous day.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Renewed concern over rising COVID-19 cases, delta variant: 

Despite Canada having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, that might not be enough to slow the spread of COVID-19 driven by the highly contagious delta variant. 2:34


What’s happening around the world

A visitor submits her documents at the reception to receive a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo on Monday. (Stanislav Kogiku/The Associated Press)

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 198.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.2 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan will focus on hospitalizing patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19 and those at risk of becoming so while others isolate at home amid worries about a strained medical system as cases surge in Olympics host city Tokyo.

Pakistan’s top health official says his country for the first time has administered one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across the country in the past 24 hours. The latest development comes days after Pakistan imposed a lockdown in the southern port city of Karachi and in other high-risk areas.

In the Americas, the U.S. states of Florida and Louisiana were at or near their highest hospitalization numbers of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, a trend driven by the still-spreading delta variant.

Nearly three out of four Americans above the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disesae Control.

In Africa, Morocco will lengthen its night curfew as it tightens restrictions to counter a surge in infections.

In the Middle East, Iran on Monday reported 37,189 new cases of COVID-19 — a single-day high, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. The country, which has been hit hard by several waves of the novel coronavirus, also saw 411 additional deaths.

In Europe, France’s overseas territory of Guadeloupe will to go into a new lockdown for at least three weeks.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to get the travel industry moving again with a simple user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing new virus variants.

From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET

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Canada fines travellers for fake vaccination and testing papers – BBC News

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A Covid screening centre at the Vancouver airport

Getty Images

Canada has fined two travellers arriving from the US who, officials say, forged Covid-19 testing and vaccination documents.

Each was fined C$19,720 ($16,000, £11,500) after inspectors at the Toronto airport found their vaccine cards and proof of testing were fake.

It comes as Canada is set to ease travel restrictions on US visitors.

Around the world, nations are grappling with how to re-open their borders to travellers amid a virus surge.

According to a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the two unnamed travellers had entered Canada from the US during the week of 18 July.

The Canada Border Services Agency, which inspects Covid travel documents for authenticity, determined that the duo had faked the documents that they had uploaded to the government’s ArriveCAN travel website.

“The Government of Canada will continue to investigate incidents reported and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where it is warranted to protect the health of Canadians from the further spread of Covid-19 and its variants of concern,” the agency said in a statement.

Canada did not identify the travellers or their itineraries. The health agency told Newsweek in a statement that they were Canadian citizens.

Canada loosened requirements for international travellers on 5 July. Anyone entering the country must provide proof of vaccination. The unvaccinated have to submit to multiple tests, and stay for three days in a government-run hotel before quarantining for 14 days.

Canada will begin letting vaccinated Americans enter the country starting on 9 August.

The US border with Canada and Mexico, however, remains closed to foreigners until 21 August.

Other countries are quickly amending their travel restrictions, depending on the rise or fall of new infections and vaccinations.

On Monday, the UK began allowing vaccinated Americans and Europeans to enter without undergoing quarantine.

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US Customs agents arrest Canadian woman attempting to smuggle drugs – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
A Canadian woman has been caught attempting to import a significant quantity of cocaine into the country, U.S. border agents report.

The suspect, who was driving a commercial truck loaded with watermelons and peppers, attempted to cross into Canada at the office in Sweetgrass, Mont. on July 29.

Upon further inspection of the truck, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered a number of bags hidden among the cargo.

The substance inside the bags tested positive for cocaine, officials said. The total amount of drugs seized was 31.5 kilograms.

“Utilizing high-tech tools, our frontline CBP Officers used a combination of their training and experience to detect and seize 69.5 pounds of cocaine in the cargo environment,” said area port director Jason Greene, Sweetgrass Port of Entry, in a release.

“The ability to facilitate lawful trade and travel while sustaining a focus on enforcement, is critical to our border security mission.”

Charges are pending against the suspect, who has not been identified.

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