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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world March 31 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

There could be as many as 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic — even if people follow measures such as physical distancing, the White House said Tuesday, citing modelling data from health experts.

The projection was not far off from what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. government infectious disease expert, offered two days ago in a TV interview.

U.S. President Donald Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.

Ottawa allocating $2B for protective gear 

Meanwhile, in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his government is allocating $2 billion for the purchase of critical protective supplies, like test kits and the face masks and gowns worn by health-care workers.

The government has signed contracts, or letters of intent, with eight Canadian companies. One of them, Thornhill Medical, says it is making 500 ventilators and hopes to have them ready within weeks.

“We have been able to cover all our needs up until this point and expect to be able to cover our needs for medical equipment in the foreseeable future,” he said.

WATCH | Why are there so many cases of COVID-19 in Quebec?

Premier François Legault explains why the number of confirmed cases in Quebec is higher than other provinces. 1:38

However, Quebec Premier François Legault said his province could run out of protective equipment for medical workers in three to seven days.

Two provinces are extending their suspension of in-class learning for kindergarten to Grade 12 because of the ongoing outbreak, with Manitoba announcing school buildings are closed “indefinitely” and Ontario saying students won’t be back at their desks until early May.

Manitoba’s education minister said Tuesday that secondary students who were set to graduate still will. None of the province’s students will be held back because of the coronavirus pandemic, Kelvin Goertzen said in announcing the new measure.

Ontario has also announced it is going to extend the cancellation of in-class learning for students, meaning children from junior kindergarten through to Grade 12 won’t be back at their desks until at least May 4. Schools in the province have been closed since March 14, the start of the annual March Break.

“In order to protect our children, I’m prepared to extend these closures even further if we have to,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday.

Toronto is cancelling all city-led events, conferences, festivals and cultural programs until June 30. Events affected include the annual Pride Parade in June, Mayor John Tory announced Tuesday.

Several provinces — including Nova Scotia and Quebec — have already announced that in-class learning is suspended until at least May, while the Northwest Territories and the Nunavik region of northern Quebec have said that school buildings won’t open again this academic year.

Prince Edward Island has gone further, extending in-class closures to at least May 11. New Brunswick hasn’t provided an estimated date, saying that school buildings are closed indefinitely.

WATCH | Talking to kids about the coronavirus pandemic:

How to talk to your kids about the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:01

The coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in late 2019 and has now spread to countries all over the world, has stretched health systems, strained protective gear supplies, crippled companies and cancelled in-class learning for children from daycare age right up through university.

Across Canada, educators and school boards have been trying to sort out how to best keep students learning, including through a variety of e-learning programs. In B.C., the superintendent of the Surrey school board asked parents for patience as teachers turned to virtual learning after spring break. In nearby Vancouver, the superintendent also cautioned that it will “take time” to sort out how the year’s curriculum will be delivered.

A woman walks past signs to withhold rent in Toronto on Tuesday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador has said all K-9 students will advance into the next grade no matter what happens with the rest of the academic year. The plan for more advanced high school students in that province is not yet clear.

In Saskatchewan, final grades are set by default to what a student earned by March 13 — though they can improve it through continued online learning. The Saskatchewan government assigned all students at least a 50 per cent mark in their classes, even if they are failing.

Details on wage subsidy plan coming Wednesday 

On Wednesday, the federal government is expected to unveil additional information about its plans to offer wage subsidies of up to 75 per cent for businesses — big and small — that see at least a 30 per cent revenue drop. The temporary subsidies are also available to non-profits, many of which have seen a surge in demand as people struggle to pay bills.

The prime minister has urged businesses that can afford to cover the remaining 25 per cent to do so, and cautioned against trying to take advantage of a system meant to keep companies afloat during a time of crisis.

“If you have the means to pay the remaining 25 per cent that is not covered by the subsidy, do it,” Trudeau said Monday. “And if you think this is a system you can game or take advantage of, don’t.”

t the same time, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has reiterated a call to do everything possible to protect the vulnerable.

WATCH | The latest information on masks and who experts say should wear them: 

While public health officials tell Canadians not to wear masks unless they’re sick, other countries take a different approach, leading to confusion for some. 2:05

Tam said public health teams are doing “everything we can” to increase testing capacity for the coronavirus. She said Canada has been improving, but added “we can do better.” The government is looking at a range of measures, including upping capacity at provincial labs and scrutinizing new potential testing methods.

“This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the western Pacific. “We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”

As of 7:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 8,612 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 108 deaths. Provinces and territories reported 1,290 cases as resolved, though it’s important to note that data isn’t available in all areas.

The numbers, which are updated at least daily by the provinces and territories, are not a complete picture, as they don’t account for people who haven’t been tested, those being investigated as potential cases and people still waiting to learn their test results.  

There have also been two reported COVID-19 related deaths of Canadians abroad — one in Brazil and one in Japan.

The novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been monitoring the outbreak and emerging research, says that the situation around COVID-19 changes daily, but describes the novel coronavirus as a “serious” health threat.

“The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.”

Read on for a look at what’s happening in your part of Canada, the U.S. and some of the hard-hit areas of the world.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces

In British Columbia, there have been 1,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and five more deaths, for a total of 24 who have died from the coronavirus in the province. Health officials stressed Tuesday that there was little chance that mitigation measures would be lifted anytime soon. “[There is] zero chance — none — that any of the orders will be varied by the end of April,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, adding “I think we’re in this for a long time.” Later, the B.C. government announced that the provincial state of emergency has been extended to April 14 to ensure a co-ordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis. Get the latest on what’s happening in B.C.

In Alberta, a third resident at a southeast Calgary long-term care facility has died of COVID-19, operator Revera Living confirmed to CBC News on Tuesday. As of midday Monday, 41 people had tested positive for the disease at the McKenzie Towne care home, including 36 residents and five staff members. The province’s latest tally of 754 cases includes 77 cases involving health-care workers, said chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Get the latest on what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan reported on Tuesday that it has 184 cases, up from eight on Monday. NDP Leader Ryan Meili accused the province of confusing people by not providing a breakdown between travel-related cases and community transmission. Get the latest on what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is shutting down non-critical services starting Tuesday. That means things like hair salons and massage therapy offices won’t be allowed to open and restaurants will be cut back to offering take out. “This is not a sprint — this is a marathon. And we have to make the necessary steps now to make sure that we keep that slope on [COVID-19] down,” Premier Brian Pallister said. Get the latest on what’s happening in Manitoba.

WATCH | Patient who is recovering from COVID-19 gives wrenching account of experience:

Wife Tracy Segura said she wasn’t sure she’d see husband Rene again after he landed in the emergency ward alone in a Barrie, Ont., hospital. 15:03

A small Ontario community is reeling after a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care home proved deadly for many residents and led to more than two dozen infections among staff. “I’ve been in practice for 32 years. I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff happen, but I don’t remember anything with this level of sadness,” medical director of the Bobcaygeon, Ont., facility Michelle Snarr said Monday. By Tuesday there were 13 deaths linked to the facility — 12 residents and one woman who volunteered there and whose husband lived at the facility. Get the latest on what’s happening in Ontario.

Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ont., confirmed on Tuesday that four of its patients tested positive for the coronavirus and have been relocated to a unit exclusively caring for patients being treated for COVID-19.

Quebec reported Tuesday that it now has more than 4,100 cases, a 21 per cent increase in the last 24 hours, with 31 deathsLegault says the province still has capacity for “what will come next.”  Get the latest from Quebec, including new information on a Montreal homeless man who was thought to be positive for COVID-19, but was in fact not.

New Brunswick on Tuesday confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 70. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the illness is now spreading through community transmission and therefore people should not be “lulled” by the modest increase in numbers. Premier Blaine Higgs said people ignoring the rules will face enforcement measures including thousands of dollars in fines and — in extreme cases — possible detention. Get the latest on what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 lab has more than tripled its capacity to test for the new coronavirus. Charles Heinstein, technical manager at the QEII Health Sciences Centre microbiology lab in Halifax, said the staff have moved to an assembly line approach. Get the latest from N.S.

P.E.I.’s premier had tough words for people who aren’t following public health orders in the province, saying: “The time for education is over. The time for enforcement is now.” Dennis King said Islanders can expect to see fines being issued, and didn’t rule out jail time if people keep ignoring rules. Get the latest on what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador has set up a 30-bed unit for COVID-19 patients. “It has a number of negative pressure rooms, which is part of the technology that helps us keep the patients and staff as safe as possible when we have highly infectious diseases,” David Diamond, president and CEO of Eastern Health, said of the setup at Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s. Get the latest on what’s happening in N.L., including the story of a man staying in a prospector’s tent in his driveway for 14 days while his family lives inside.

Yukon has reported a fifth COVID-19 case after a “cluster” investigation, and the territory’s top health official says there may be more to come. In the Northwest Territories, where schools have been closed for the rest of the academic year, education officials said students should expect final grades even as they get fewer hours of schooling. Nunavut, meanwhile, has said people who violate a mandatory self-isolation order could face jail time. Get the latest from across Canada’s North, including the story of Yukon First Nations helping members who can’t pay bills.

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 6 p.m. ET

Trump warned Americans Tuesday that they have a very tough two weeks coming in the fight against the coronavirus as he urged everyone to follow federal distancing guidelines through the end of April. “It’s absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days. It’s a matter of life and death,” he said during a news conference at the White House. 

The guidelines call for continued physical distancing, as well as staying at home if sick and calling your doctor. People are also urged to refrain from going to restaurants and bars, to utilize delivery and takeout food options, and to protect the elderly, although young people are at risk, too.

It was a sharp reversal from Trump’s message as recently as the weekend, when he declared he wanted the country re-opened by Easter.

Members of the White House’s coronavirus task force outlined how the distancing has already helped some states —including Washington — and will ultimately help harder-hit states, such as New York and New Jersey. 

WATCH | Trump warns of ‘painful’ 2 weeks ahead:

U.S. president says tens of thousands may perish due to coronavirus despite physical distancing and other measures. 2:45

The modelling projects between 100,000 and 240,000 people in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus pandemic if physical distancing measures continue to be followed, as compared to 1.5 to 2.2 million with no mitigation measures.

“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is helping to lead the U.S. effort. But he says he hopes the figures won’t soar so high.

WATCH | New York, faced with growing outbreak, asks for help:

Even as a U.S. navy hospital carrying 1,000 beds sails into New York City, the state pleads for more health-care workers and relief as hospitals are overrun with COVID-19 cases and deaths. 2:02

The U.S. death toll had climbed past 3,500 on Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count. In hard-hit New York, the mammoth convention centre started taking patients to ease the burden on the city’s overwhelmed health system and Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the U.S. Open is held, was being turned into a hospital. New York remains the nation’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.

Meanwhile, a U.S. navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds that docked in the city Monday was expected to begin accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday.

Close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals are already said to be stepping forward to help New York. New York City also sought to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help its swamped EMS system.

In California, officials put out a similar call for medical volunteers as coronavirus hospitalizations doubled over the last four days and the number of patients in intensive care tripled.

U.S. officials want to build hundreds of temporary hospitals across the country to cope with the thousands of new coronavirus cases being diagnosed daily.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which converted New York City’s Javits Center into a 1,000-bed hospital in the space of a week, is searching for hotels, dormitories, convention centres and large, open spaces to build as many as 341 temporary hospitals, the chief of corps said on Tuesday.

“The scope is immense,” Lt.-Gen. Todd Semonite told Good Morning America. “We’re looking right now at around 341 different facilities across all of the United States.”

At least six members of the U.S. Congress have announced that they have contracted the novel coronavirus, and more than 30 others are or were self-quarantining in hopes of limiting the spread of the pandemic.

WATCH | World landmarks light up in display of thanks to health-care workers:

As an expression of gratitude to health-care workers battling the coronavirus, the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and other famous sites around the world are shining brightly. 0:52

Here’s what’s happening in hard-hit Italy, Spain and around Europe

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

In Italy, the reported death toll was about 12,400 on Tuesday, but the country’s emergency co-ordinator, Domenico Arcuri, acknowledged that officials don’t have a handle on how many people outside of hospitals are contracting the virus and how many are dying at home or in nursing homes.

Dr. Silvio Brusaferro, the head of the Italian National Institute of Health, said that three weeks into a national lockdown, the hardest-hit country in Europe is seeing the rate of new infections level off. “The curve suggests we are at the plateau,” he said. “We have to confirm it, because arriving at the plateau doesn’t mean we have conquered the peak and we’re done. It means now we should start to see the decline if we continue to place maximum attention on what we do every day.”

A mural dedicated to all Italian medical workers depicting a nurse cradling Italy and reading ‘To all of you… thank you!’ is seen on a wall of Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital last week in Bergamo, near Milan, Italy. (Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Spain reported more than 840 new deaths Tuesday, pushing its death toll above 8,000 and forcing Madrid to open a second temporary morgue after an ice rink pressed into service last week became overwhelmed. Dozens of hotels across Spain have been turned into recovery rooms for patients in less-serious condition, and authorities are building field hospitals in sports centres, libraries and exhibition halls.

A member of the medical staff, wearing protective suit and face mask, checks the temperature of a patient at an emergency COVID-19 centre inside a gymnasium in Champigny-sur-Marne near Paris on Tuesday. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Poland‘s government is ramping up regulations in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus because too many people are failing to practise the required physical distancing and the number of infections is rising. In announcing the new measures Tuesday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that too many people were seen out in public spaces on a weekend that saw warm, spring-like weather. The number of infections is still lower than in western Europe but is growing, with 2,132 infections and 31 confirmed deaths as of Tuesday.

Germany’s labour minister says he expects the number of people on a government-backed short-term work program to exceed the 1.4 million it reached during the financial crisis in 2009. The government has recently made it easier for companies to put workers on the program, which was credited with limiting job losses during the financial crisis and speeding the rebound.

The death toll in England from the coronavirus outbreak rose 29 per cent to 1,651, with one person as young as 19 dying without any underlying health conditions, the National Health Service said. “Patients were aged between 19 and 98 years old and all but 28 patients (aged between 19 and 91 years old) had underlying health conditions,” it said. Scotland said 60 people had died as of Tuesday. Wales said 69 people had died. Northern Ireland said its toll was 28.

Belgian authorities say a 12-year-old girl has died of the coronavirus, by far the youngest person among the more than 700 victims in the country. Announcing the news Tuesday, national crisis centre coronavirus spokesperson Emmanuel Andre said it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community.” No details about the girl were provided. Andre said that 98 people had died from the disease over the last 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people. More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed in total so far.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in China, South Korea, Iran and some other areas of the world

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 2 p.m. ET

The epidemic is “far from over” in the Asia-Pacific region, and the current measures are merely buying time for countries to prepare for large-scale community transmissions, a WHO official said on Tuesday. 

Chinese officials say the coronavirus epidemic isn’t over in their country and that daunting challenges remain. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday that authorities need to make sure that infected people arriving from abroad don’t spread the disease and start new outbreaks. She hit back at U.S. criticism of her country’s handling of the epidemic, saying that China and the U.S. should work together to fight it. Hua noted that some local Chinese governments and companies have provided virus-related medical supplies to the United States, even as the demand for those supplies remains high in China.

Tokyo recorded more than 70 new infections on Tuesday for its highest tally in a single day, as pressure built on Japan’s prime minister to order a lockdown.

A vendor serves a customer at her stall at a wet market in Las Pinas, in Manila, through a plastic cover to enforce physical distancing on Monday. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

Iran’s death toll from coronavirus reached nearly 2,000 Tuesday, with 141 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Tuesday, noting that the total number of infections has jumped to 44,606. The government has banned inter-city travel and warned of a potential surge in coronavirus cases because many Iranians defied calls to cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20. It has so far stopped short of imposing a lockdown on Iranian cities.

Saudi Arabia wants Muslims to wait until there is more clarity about the coronavirus pandemic before planning to attend the annual hajj pilgrimage in late July, the minister for the event said on state TV on Tuesday. Some 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world usually flock to the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long ritual, which is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim and a major source of income for the kingdom.

The Philippine government is studying the possibility of deploying ships that can serve as “floating quarantine hospitals” for people infected by the coronavirus once leading hospitals are filled to capacity. At least six private metropolitan Manila hospitals have announced they are full and can no longer accept COVID-19 patients.

Shortages of protective gear in India are forcing some doctors to use raincoats and motorbike helmets while fighting the virus, which has the whole country in a 21-day lockdown. India has 1,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across the country, including 32 deaths, a quarter of which have been linked to a religious gathering.

People stand apart in a line to receive free food being distributed on a street during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus in New Delhi on Monday. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

South Korea has managed to bring down its rate of new infections to about 100 or fewer a day, but groups of cases in churches, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as imported cases, are still emerging. Authorities have postponed the beginning of the new school semester three times from early March to April 6, and have decided to do so again, given the persistence of the outbreak.

South Africa’s president on Monday night announced that the country, which has the most cases in Africa with 1,326, will launch a mass screening and testing program with about 10,000 field workers going door-to-door. And, Uganda and Botswana are the latest countries to impose lockdowns in an effort to prevent the virus’s spread. Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases are now above 5,200, with 173 deaths. Shortages of testing materials mean the real number of cases could be higher.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said there can be no more quarantine measures imposed on the country than those already in place because jobs are being destroyed and the poor are suffering disproportionately.

Mexico declared a health emergency on Monday and issued further restrictions.

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Should everyone be tested for COVID-19? Most Canadians think so, poll shows – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Experts say widespread testing for COVID-19 is one of the most effective defences against a second wave of infections, a measure most Canadians support according to a recent poll.

More than three in five Canadians say they are in favour of testing every Canadian for the novel coronavirus, according to a Nanos Research poll commissioned by CTV News.

The random survey of 1,009 Canadians, which took place between May 26 and 28, revealed that 28 per cent of respondents support and 33 per cent somewhat support widespread testing measures, while more than one in three opposed the idea.

Polling data shows that residents of Atlantic Canada and Ontario have a higher intensity of support for universal testing than residents in Western Canada.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, provinces are working to expand their testing criteria to include people with very mild or even abnormal COVID-19 symptoms, an effort Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says will help spot possible community cases that would otherwise go undetected.

Officials are also working to roll out the country’s first antibody test as rapidly as possible to help determine how much of the population may have been infected.

But some provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have routinely fallen behind their diagnostic targets. The criteria for who can get tested also ranges widely between each province.

Nanos polling also shows that Canadians are more likely to say they are confident that there will be a vaccine available to fight COVID-19 within the next 12 months. However, four in ten respondents are not confident in that timeline.

Tam has noted that officials are working to understand how administering an eventual vaccine would be prioritized to certain segments of the population while considering “the maximum number of Canadians who may wish to be vaccinated.”

 

MOST CANADIANS HAPPY WITH PROVINCIAL RESPONSE

According to the poll, more than three in five Canadians are confident that their public health authorities have an accurate count of the number of COVID-19 cases in their province.

However, Ontario residents were less confident in the province’s data, with the majority of respondents doubting the official case count.

Ontario, one of the hardest hit provinces, has had several instances of reporting errors since the beginning of the outbreak.

On Thursday, the province recorded a spike in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 after days of relatively lower numbers. However, officials said the increase may have been due to a lag in reporting from local public health units. This comes just days after officials revealed nearly 500 COVID-19 patients were not flagged to local public health agencies for contact tracing due to a reporting error.

When it comes to the economic ramifications of the outbreak, nearly eight in ten Canadians say the opening up of the economy in their province is being done in a safe (33 per cent) or somewhat safe (46 per cent) way.

Residents in B.C. and Atlantic Canada were the most confident in the safety measures being taken to reopen the economy.

However, when asked which approach Canada should take to opening its border with the U.S., 40 per cent of Canadians say Canada should keep the border closed to non-essential traffic until the end of the summer. Thirty-one per cent say Canada should keep the border closed until there is a vaccine.

Twenty per cent of Canadians say the border should open to non-essential traffic once businesses are allowed to open, even if social distancing is still in place, with residents of the Prairies the most likely to be in favour of reopening.

 

METHODOLOGY

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,009 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between May 26 and April 28, 2020. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online.

The margin of error this survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The research was commissioned by CTV News and was conducted by Nanos Research. 

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Canadians living in China watch developments in Meng case closely – CTV News

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Canadian teacher Christopher Maclure remembers the first time he felt afraid living in China.

Almost all the newspapers there carried stories about how angry Chinese officials were when Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained by Canadian authorities in Vancouver at the behest of the United States.

But it wasn’t until a few days later when the two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were arrested by China that Maclure felt fear.

“That’s when I got really scared,” he said in a phone interview from China where he has lived for more than two decades. “It was the top news story in China.”

Meng has been held in Canada since December 2018. She’s out on bail while fighting extradition to the United States on fraud charges. Last week, her lawyers’ first round of arguments was thrown out by a B.C. judge, meaning the case continues.

Nine days after Meng’s arrest, Chinese authorities sent Kovrig, an ex-diplomat working for the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea, to prison. They are accused of violating China’s national security interests, but Canadian argues the men have been “arbitrarily detained.”

Maclure said his family was quite worried while these events played out and their fears were renewed when the B.C. court ruled against Meng last week.

But Maclure said he has felt safer in China than in any country in the West, he said.

“Everything is on camera here. It provides me with a sense of security,” he said. “And I speak Chinese quite well.”

Maclure said he censors what he says on WeChat, a Chinese social media site.

“Being a teacher … I’m sometimes a little paranoid that I’d be a person to detain,” he said. “We have a saying in China that when it’s all the same the tallest tree gets the most wind. It means the more you express your opinion, the more critical you are, the more likely you are to get cut down.”

Myriam Larouche, a Quebec woman who is a graduate student in China, said she’s not worried about being affected by the Meng case. Larouche is in Canada now, but she plans to return to China once flights resume and school starts.

Larouche said she had “some concerns” when she heard the two Canadians were arrested, but “I asked some friends and they said ‘No, no you don’t have to be worried.’ “

Global Affairs Canada said there are currently 12,885 Canadian citizens in China who have voluntarily registered with the department.

Ottawa is “aware” of 118 Canadians currently in custody in greater China with the most common charges being drug-related and fraud.

A court in southern China handed down a death penalty to a Canadian in April of last year on drug charges. In a separate drug smuggling case, China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in a sudden retrial in January — one month after Kovrig and Spavor were detained.

Wayne Duplessis had been living in China for more than two decades prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and said he hopes to go back.

He remembers reading about the arrests of Meng, Kovrig and Spavor.

“A friend contacted me a couple of days after (Kovrig and Spavor were arrested) and said, ‘are you concerned?’ I guess there was a brief moment when I thought ‘should I be concerned?’ “

But that passed, Duplessis said.

He said he and his family have been treated well in China and people there have a lot of respect for Canada.

“By and large I never feel uncomfortable about this. It seems very much unrelated to us.”

Duplessis said he feels badly for Spavor and Kovrig.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in custody for more than 500 days — even one day. Terrifying,” he said

Canadians living in China can stay in touch with the embassy and cultivate “good working relationships locally,” he said.

“I hope this is a blip and I hope that things get cleared.”

But people can’t be ruled by their fears, he added.

“We have to move forward or we just don’t get anywhere. So, you try to be as cautious as you can, you try to understand the risks — there’s no sense in being foolish about it — but we do have to move forward.

“We do have to build our lives.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.

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Strains from Europe and Eastern Canada account for most COVID-19 cases in B.C., genomic data shows – CBC.ca

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Strains traced to Europe and Eastern Canada are by far the largest source of COVID-19 infections in B.C., according to new modelling presented by the provincial government Thursday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed the results of genomic tracing of different strains of the virus, showing that of those samples that have been sequenced, early cases linked to travel from China and Iran appear to have been well contained, leading to relatively few other infections.

But beginning in March, with an outbreak that began with the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver, infections with strains from Eastern Canada and Europe spiked dramatically.

“One of the people that we knew was positive and had attended that conference had previously been in Germany during his incubation period before he became ill,” Henry said.

Strains traced to Washington state have also been linked to a large number of cases, particularly in long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Henry explained that this kind of tracing is possible because the genome of the virus changes relatively quickly, but not as fast as diseases like influenza.

Genomic tracing of different strains of the novel coronavirus show most infections are linked to variations that have been traced to Europe and Eastern Canada. (B.C. government)

She also announced nine new confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, for a total of 2,632 to date. No new deaths have been recorded, leaving B.C.’s total at 166.

The new cases announced Thursday include four people who have already recovered, people that Henry described as epidemiologically linked to previous patients who have tested positive.

This means these four people were close contacts of known cases and developed symptoms of COVID-19, but may not have had access to testing at the time.

There are currently 26 people in hospital, including six in intensive care. To date, 2,265 people have recovered from their illnesses, and there are now 201 active cases across the province.

Meanwhile, there has been a new community outbreak at the Beresford Warming Centre in Burnaby, where three people have tested positive for the virus.

Richmond has lowest caseload in Lower Mainland

For the first time, Henry also provided more detailed geographic data about COVID-19 cases in B.C., breaking them down by the 16 health service delivery areas.

The numbers show that in the Lower Mainland, Richmond has had the lowest percentage of cases, with just 444 per million residents, compared to 832 in Vancouver, 911 on the North Shore, and 1,241 cases per million in the area from Abbotsford to Hope in Fraser Health.

The numbers also show that Richmond had no new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks of May, the only part of the Lower Mainland where that was the case. 

As well, 83 per cent of B.C.’s new cases in the last two weeks of May were in just two health delivery areas — Fraser East and Fraser South.  

In the rest of the province, the only sub-region with a significantly higher percentage of COVID-19 cases was north Vancouver Island (comprising areas north of Qualicum Beach), with 483 cases per million residents compared to 92 cases in central Vancouver Island and 112 cases in south Vancouver Island. 

Men account for more deaths and hospitalizations

The figures presented by Henry also show a trend that has been noted in most other parts of the world. 

While slightly more women and girls have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C., men and boys have been much more likely to have serious cases of the disease.

About two-thirds of COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized were male — a proportion similar to those in intensive care and those who have died.

Data from the B.C. government shows that male patients are much more likely to be hospitalized or to die because of COVID-19. (B.C. government)

“We’ve talked about the biological reasons why this might be, but we do not have all the answers yet,” Henry said.

Meanwhile, people over the age of 70 are much more likely to die from the virus, even though people between the ages of 30 and 60 account for the majority of infections.

Other data presented Thursday suggest that since businesses and services began reopening on May 19, British Columbians have managed to keep their social contacts to between 30 and 40 per cent of what they were before the pandemic.

“That’s what we want to see,” Henry said.

She also said that modelling suggests that the partial reopening of schools that began on June 1 should have minimal impact on the spread of the virus, as long as adults maintain social distancing and those who are ill commit to self-isolating.

B.C. is now testing between 1,500 and 2,000 people for COVID-19 every day, and the percentage of those tests coming back positive has fallen in recent weeks. Anyone with symptoms can now get tested, and Henry said the province has the capacity to ramp up the testing rate if necessary.

If the curve of infection remains relatively flat, Henry said, she is hopeful that travel within B.C. will be safe by late June or early July.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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