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Closing Canada’s border to refugees violates international law

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to close the border to asylum seekers who enter the country irregularly amid the worsening global COVID-19 outbreak is a violation of international law, experts say.

“Deeply disappointed by Justin Trudeau’s decision to shut down the Canada-US border to refugees, in contravention of international refugee law and arguably Canadian constitutional law,” wrote immigration law professor Sean Rehaag on Twitter just hours after Friday’s announcement.

Rehaag, who leads York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, also said the government’s decision puts Canadians’ health at risk because closing controlled border crossings for irregular migrants, such as Roxham Road in southern Quebec, will likely increase the chances that asylum seekers will find other ways to enter Canada.

 

“Refugee claimants go through medical checks and self-isolation (at places like Roxham Road).” Reghaag wrote. “Closing down such routes pushes asylum seekers to cross surreptitiously, with no screening.”

On Friday, Trudeau announced that irregular migrants crossing on foot from the U.S. will be turned away when they reach Canada as part of a wider border shutdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

Trudeau said that the move was part of a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. and that would-be refugees will be turned back “anywhere at the Canada-U.S. border.”

The decision comes amid security concerns around screening people at irregular border crossings for COVID-19 and hours before the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to all but essential travel, which goes into effect at midnight.

“Those who’ve already crossed the border will be put in isolation,” Trudeau said. “But in the future, those trying to cross the border irregularly will be released back into the U.S.”

Trudeau added that the new measures are “temporary” but nonetheless necessary as the world battles the spread of COVID-19, which had sickened nearly 250,000 people worldwide as of Thursday, including at least 846 Canadians.

Decision could create ‘more risk’

It’s unclear exactly how the government plans to patrol the more than 9,000-kilometre border between Canada and the U.S.

 

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said Friday there’s “no evidence” that suggests asylum seekers are a higher health risk than others wanting to enter Canada, and that all non-essential travellers “posed a risk.”

“We would simply direct them back to curtail that irregular migration — which was very difficult, quite frankly, to monitor — to ensure the safety of Canadians,” Blair said.

A spokesperson for Blair’s office later said the decision to close the border to irregular migrants was made based on decisions by the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who are “concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.”

But in remarks made Friday, Rema Jamous, head of the UNHCR in Canada, said that while all states must manage their borders in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, they must also “carefully balance these measures to not close avenues to asylum or return people to situations of danger.”

Jamous also said the UNHCR is working to make sure it fully understands the government’s decision and that she knows the situation is in flux.

 

Still, there are those who support the government’s decision completely.

 

Conservative immigration critic Peter Kent said in a statement that it was the “right thing to do.”

“[I’m] pleased the government has heard CPC calls for stronger measures at the border,” Kent said.

Others, such as Craig Damian Smith, an expert in the forced migration of refugees, believe harsher border controls meant to stop the flow of asylum seekers are often counterproductive, leading to higher rates of smuggling and human trafficking across international boundaries.

“Professionalized smugglers will most likely step in to meet demand,” he said. “Particularly if the people who want to leave (the U.S.) are undocumented.”

Smith acknowledges that during a time of global pandemic — when Canada’s health care system is already struggling to keep up — there are likely “no good options” for the government when it comes to securing the border, adding that the potential cost of isolating irregular migrants for two-weeks and paying for their medical care if they are sick “could become overwhelming.”

Still, he thinks the government has an obligation to protect asylum seekers, even during a pandemic.

He says not doing so could create “more risk” for Canadians if irregular migrants who succeed at entering the country despite the ban go underground, rather than presenting themselves to authorities.

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections


Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Trudeau says coronavirus projections for Canada will be shared in ‘coming days’ – Global News

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will release “in the coming days” its projections of how many people could die from the novel coronavirus pandemic in Canada.

That comes as Ontario released its projections for a two-year time span for the pandemic and the potential for 1,600 Ontarians to be dead by the end of the month despite the measures in place.

That’s compared to the potential death toll of 6,000 by the end of the month if there were none.

READ MORE: Ontario projects just under 1,600 COVID-19 deaths, 80,000 cases by end of April

Countries around the world and several Canadian provinces have moved in recent days to share their best- and worst-case projections for potential death tolls from the virus.

As a result, Trudeau has faced growing calls for the federal government to share its own modelling given the extraordinary demands being placed on Canadians to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

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READ MORE: As more provinces, countries share coronavirus scenarios, Trudeau tells Canadians: wait

But he has not committed to a specific date for that release, saying officials are still working with the provinces to get better-quality data to inform those models.

“There are things we will be sharing with Canadians but we need to make sure we have a better grasp on the data before we put projections out there,” he said.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu also reiterated on Friday that those models will be coming shortly but cautioned they are not exact and rather a “best estimate” of what could happen.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Trudeau has insisted that releasing projection models is not as useful as sharing hard information, but his refusal so far to share best- and worst-case scenarios has prompted criticism and calls to change.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Among those voices was former health minister Jane Philpott, who Trudeau kicked out of the Liberal caucus last year for raising concerns about his handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

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She tweeted on Thursday that “this is not the time to hide bad news” and urged the government to offer “radical transparency” for Canadians.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also called for the release of the data on Friday morning.

“Mr. Trudeau says his government is being guided by the evidence,” he said. “It’s time to release that evidence.”






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections


Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The B.C. government shared its best- and worst-case forecasts roughly two weeks ago, along with the projected potential shortfalls in resources like intensive care beds.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney offered partial insight into that province’s projections Thursday night in the legislature as well, saying health officials there expect to see 250 Albertans need intensive care beds by April 22 — three weeks before they predict the number of cases in the province will peak.

READ MORE: AHS modelling projects 250 Albertans in ICU over COVID-19 later in April

Ford had initially resisted sharing Ontario’s projections with the public, saying as recently as Wednesday that he feared they might cause panic. He reversed course on Thursday, pledging to release the data.

“You deserve to see the same data that I see, you deserve to know what I know,” he said during a briefing with media on the state of the virus in the province.

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A leaked report of the potential forecast in Saskatchewan was also obtained by Global News last week, and that shows the government there views 15,000 deaths as the worst-case scenario.

READ MORE: Ontario reports 462 new coronavirus cases, total now at 3,255 and 67 deaths

Countries around the world have started to offer their grim vision for how the disease could play out. In the United States, officials said Tuesday there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in that country as a result of COVID-19, with 200,000 expected even “if we do things almost perfectly.”

New Zealand published a government-commissioned model to design its “plan for” scenario, in which 65 per cent of the public becomes infected, 336,000 people require hospitalization and between 12,600 and 33,600 to die.

And a report by Reuters on Thursday cited a U.K. official as saying that country’s worst-case scenario was 50,000 deaths but also cautioning that isn’t being viewed as likely right now.

— With files from Global News’ Andrew Russell

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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

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The latest: 

As global reported coronavirus case numbers pass one million — including more than 11,000 known cases in Canada — governments are scrambling to deal with both a mounting public health crisis and growing joblessness.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with premiers on Thursday about a range of issues, including the shortage of protective gear for health-care workers.

Faced with rising case numbers and tighter restrictions, there have been some calls for more information from governments about what is expected and what information is driving decisions.

Trudeau has said that such national modelling is coming “soon,” but requires more data from provincial and territorial governments — a subject he discussed with premiers during his more than two-hour first ministers’ conference call.

WATCH | Federal government under pressure to release coronavirus projections: 

As Canadians wonder how bad the COVID-19 outbreak will get, some say the federal government should share more detailed data modelling with the public. 2:00

Ontario Premier Doug Ford intends to release provincial projection and modelling information Friday, saying that he wants people in the province to know “what I know.”

“No beating around the bush, no holding back figures,” he said Thursday, adding that the data provided would be hard for some people to hear. 

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the situation is evolving daily but that the risk to Canadians from COVID-19 is “considered high.”

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world Friday.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

As of 6 a.m. ET Friday, Canada had 11,283 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 166 deaths. The provinces and territories that list information about recovered cases have reported 1,979 cases as resolved or recovered. There have also been two reported COVID-19 related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Japan and one in Brazil. 

Public health officials caution that reported case numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the scale of the outbreak as that data doesn’t capture people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people nationwide to practise physical distancing and behave as though there is COVID-19 in their community, even if there is no known case. 

In British Columbia, six more people have died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 31 in the province. On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said one of the new cases reported was an inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Alberta has declared coronavirus outbreaks at nine seniors facilities. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said there are now 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases in continuing-care facilities “and I expect that more will be confirmed in the coming days.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says six more health workers have contracted COVID-19. “We are aware of at least six instances where individuals may have been working in a health-care setting but it’s not clear where the exposure was,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan. 

In Manitoba, unions representing Health Sciences Centre workers say about 70 staff members — including doctors, nurses, clerks and security guards  — are self-isolating after COVID-19 exposures. Read more about what’s happening at the Winnipeg health facility and across Manitoba.

WATCH | COVID-19: Are we doing a 180 on whether masks are beneficial?

Doctors answer your questions about the coronavirus, including whether or not the advice on masks has changed. 3:03

Ontario plans to release what the premier called “stark” modelling projections about coronavirus in the province. The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, noted that the projections are forecasts that will give people a sense of what to prepare for. “If people see what might be possible, could be possible and what we might achieve through our ongoing energy and efforts of public health measures, physical distancing, it means we need to stay at the task and do our part to flatten the curve and impact that and change the projection as best we can.” Read more about what Ontario officials are expected to say.

Quebec’s premier said health-care workers who are in contact with COVID-19 cases will get an increase in pay. “I don’t think there is a group that has ever been more deserving of a pay raise,” said Premier François Legault, who also announced a smaller raise for health workers not in direct contact with the virus, as well as a raise for workers in long-term care facilities. Read more about what’s happening across Quebec, and get the details of the planned pay hikes.

Health officials in New Brunswick are worried about a potential shortage of COVID-19 test suppliesPremier Blaine Higgs told CBC’s Power & Politics if the province “ramped up a bit we could be within like a week of running out of test supplies.” Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia on Thursday extended its state of emergency for another two weeks. The province also announced help for small businesses and a temporary program to help workers who don’t qualify for employment insurance. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island has announced a $1-million fund to help people not covered by other support programs announced since the COVID-19 crisis began. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I, and get the latest update from Premier Dennis King.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s health minister is urging people to prepare for an increase in cases. “We are, from experience of our other jurisdictions, not yet into our likely surge period. This is likely to come over coming weeks, and we are working hard to understand when that might be,” John Haggie said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Northwest Territories health officials have reported two travel-related COVID-19 cases, including one in a small community. The latest cases bring the territory’s case count up to four. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

From The Associated Press, updated at 6:30 a.m. ET

With more than 245,000 people infected with COVID-19 and the death toll topping 6,000, sobering preparations are underway in the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags because of the possibility funeral homes will be overwhelmed, the military said.

White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said U.S. infection data suggests Americans need to emulate those European nations that have started to see the spread of the virus slowing through strict physical distancing.

The Trump administration was formalizing new guidance to recommend Americans wear coverings such as non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas over their mouths and noses when out in public and preserve medical masks for those on the front lines.

But there are still shortages of critical equipment, including masks, in Europe and the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of breathing machines in six days. He complained that states are competing against each other for protective gear and breathing machines, or are being outbid by the federal government.

Medical workers wait for patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, which has seen an upsurge of coronavirus patients in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in hopes of boosting production of medical-grade masks by Minnesota-based 3M to assist first responders. Washington is also trying to crack down on a growing black market for protective medical supplies.

In a sign of the outbreak’s impact on the U.S. military, the captain of a navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the virus was fired by navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly says the ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in hard-hit Italy, Spain and parts of Europe

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

Europe’s three worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain and France — surpassed 30,000 dead, or over half of the global toll.

Spain is closing Friday a black week, with its death toll for the new coronavirus nearing 11,000. More than half of those occurred during the past seven days. There are also more infections than any other country in Europe.

The bottleneck in Spanish labs conducting the tests has led to relatively low levels of testing in Spain compared to other European countries, authorities have acknowledged. But even with statistics that are believed to be conservative in showing the extent of the epidemic, Spain on Friday neared 118,000 cases, second only to the United States. Official Health Ministry data showed that 7,472 of those infections had been in the past 24 hours. Spain also registered 932 new deaths, 18 less than its daily record of 950 the day before.

Medical personnel are seen as they work at a temporary hospital inside IFEMA conference centre, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Madrid. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

Italy, with more than 115,000 reported cases as of Friday morning, has seen new infections levelling off after three weeks of the West’s first nationwide shutdown.

The head of Germany’s disease control agency says the number of people who die of COVID-19 is likely being undercounted. Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute said Friday that he believes “we have more dead than are officially being reported.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wieler was suggesting that deaths are being undercounted only in Germany, or worldwide, and reporters were unable to ask follow-up questions during his online news conference. Germany’s low death rate from coronavirus has drawn international attention. Experts say the difference compared to other countries is partly due to mass testing and well-equipped hospitals, but they caution that the number of deaths is likely to rise.

The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 684 to 3,605 as of Thursday afternoon, up 23 per cent from the previous day. A total of 173,784 people have been tested, with 38,168 testing positive as of Friday morning. A new hospital was opened in London on Friday, erected to provide thousands of extra beds for patients with the coronavirus and built in just nine days. The Nightingale Hospital, which will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, will eventually be able to treat about 4,000 patients. It has been set up in the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.

A drive-thru farm shop has been opened at Tulley’s Farm in Turners Hill, England, where contact-less payment is taken on the end of a pole to observe physical distancing on Friday. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With help from the military, it is the first of six new temporary hospitals to be set up across the country to cope with the outbreak, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow in Scotland. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter Friday he was remaining in isolation with mild symptoms of the coronavirus, including a high temperature. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II will give an address about the coronavirus on Sunday at 8 p.m.

The French prime minister said he is “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive. At least 570 people have died in nursing homes in France’s eastern region, suggesting the national death toll could be far higher than thought.

Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive, the country’s first such facility hit since the outbreak. Police in Greece say they have issued 17,358 fines for people breaking the new restrictions on leaving home since a lockdown began on March 23.

The Netherlands is not in a full lockdown, but bars, restaurants, museums, schools and universities are closed and the government is urging people to stay home and practise social distancing.  Amsterdam is banning boats from its central canals beginning Sunday as authorities fear warm spring weather will lead to overcrowding on the famed waterways. The country’s public health institute on Friday reported 148 new deaths in the outbreak, bringing the Dutch death toll to 1,487.

Here’s a look at China, South Korea and some other areas of concern around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

The South Korean capital of Seoul says it will ask more than 8,500 theatregoers to self-monitor at home after Canadian and American cast members of The Phantom of the Opera were found to have the coronavirus.

Seoul City official Na Baek-ju said Friday the musical’s international tour was halted following the positive test of an unidentified Canadian actress, who began experiencing throat pain and dry coughs days after she began performing at the city’s Blue Square theatre on March 14. She last appeared on stage on Monday, a day before her test.

Officials have since tested 138 of her contacts, including colleagues and guests at the downtown Somerset Palace hotel, and confirmed the infection of an American actor on Thursday. Na said officials were still awaiting test results for 48 people while the other 89 tested negative. He said the hotel was ordered to prevent guests from leaving the property and stop taking new customers.

South Korea earlier on Friday reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 10,062.

WATCH | Debunking COVID-19 myths about lemons, masks and holding your breath:

[embedded content]

China on Friday reported 31 new confirmed virus cases, 29 of them from overseas, and four new deaths. China now has recorded a total of 81,620 cases and 3,322 deaths, although those figures are generally considered too low because of a lack of testing and a reluctance to report the scale of the original outbreak.

More than 3,000 health-care workers contracted COVID-19 and the government says 14 died of the disease. Among them was Dr. Li Wenliang, who was threatened with punishment by police after publicizing news of the outbreak but has since been listed among the national “martyrs.” His family was issued a “solemn apology” and two police officers were issued “disciplinary punishments” for their handling of the matter.

Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month as it moves to curb the increase of COVID-19 transmissions in the country. Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed from next Tuesday, and schools will be closed from Wednesday. Essential services such as food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and banking services will remain open.

People queue Wednesday to get a free refill of hand sanitizer at a mall amid the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

“Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee urged residents to stay home and only leave to buy essential items.

The country has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, and has routinely reported more than 50 new cases daily. As of Thursday, Singapore had 1,049 cases and five deaths. Singapore has also reversed its recommendations that people should wear masks only if they are feeling unwell.

“We will no longer discourage people from masks. Wearing a mask may help to protect others in case you have the virus but don’t know it,” said Lee, adding that the government will distribute reusable masks to all households as of Sunday.

Indonesia’s coronavirus death toll rose to 170, passing South Korea as the country with the highest number of recorded fatalities in Asia after China.

More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have closed their land, air and sea borders, while fears rise that the coronavirus-related restrictions are delaying access to critical aid. Humanitarian organizations are now in the extraordinary situation of negotiating humanitarian corridors in peaceful regions. And in Kenya, travel restrictions have delayed the delivery of pesticides needed to fight the most devastating locust outbreak some East African countries have seen in 70 years. A World Food Program official says lockdowns and other restrictions “may affect us very, very much” on a continent where millions of poor people must now stay at home.

Jeffrey Tucker adds items to a basket he lowered from his window as a sign of social solidarity with poor and homeless people in need amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday. The sign asks anyone who can to leave something, and says those in need can take something. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as officials battle to contain the country’s biggest cluster of infections in New Delhi.

The Middle East has confirmed over 85,000 cases of the virus and over 3,700 deaths, most of them in Iran. Iran state TV reported Friday the virus killed another 134 people, pushing the country’s death toll to nearly 3,300 amid more than 53,000 confirmed cases. Iran’s parliament speaker is among those who have contracted the disease.

Pakistan, with 2,450 confirmed cases and 35 deaths, has been sharply criticized for moving too slow to curb large gatherings, including a gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims from several Islamic countries in March. The gathering of Tableeghi Jamaat missionaries is blamed for several outbreaks of the new virus elsewhere in the world. The first confirmed cases that emerged in Gaza were traced to the gathering.

A man wearing a face mask to protect himself against coronavirus walks past people queuing for shopping in Duduza, east of Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

Turkey is preparing to treat COVID-19 patients with blood donated from people who have survived the disease. Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent organization, late Thursday called on “heroes who have come out victorious from the ‘Corona War”‘ to donate blood for the treatment, which uses plasma from people who have recovered to help seriously ill patients. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry sent a circular to the country’s 81 provinces setting out guidelines for the volunteer blood plasma donations, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Australian officials closed internal borders on Friday and warned people to stay home over the upcoming Easter holiday as the country seeks to capitalize on a further fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases.

WATCH | How Canadian cities are enforcing physical distancing:

As more jurisdictions in the country adopt new rules against gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Canadian law enforcement is tasked with enforcing them. 1:52

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